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Preparing your first-ever will in 2020? What you should keep in mind

More people around the country are realising the importance of estate planning. Thinking about what will happen to your property after you pass away (or become incapacitated) will help ensure that your beneficiaries are well taken care of. Estate planning also helps prevent property disputes or your possessions being seized by debtors.

But, if this is your first time preparing a will, you may be wondering where to start. Indeed, thinking about how your property will be handled takes time and understanding of property laws within your jurisdiction. To help you get started, here are important tips to keep in mind.

Carry out a thorough inventory of your estate

You can't develop an estate management plan without first knowing everything you actually own. For people who have an extensive list of properties, gathering this information early is critical. Things tend to become complicated when you're still paying for certain properties (such as homes), or you jointly own assets with other people.

This is why carrying out inventory is critical. Not only will you be able to gather all necessary ownership documents, but you'll also have a clear picture of the size of your estate before starting to prepare your will.    

Determine who your beneficiaries will be

The primary purpose of a will is ensuring that your estate is divided among beneficiaries according to your intentions. As you prepare this document, you'll be able to stipulate who gets what in more detail. You can also list many different types of assets, from bank accounts to land and even insurance policies.

The level of detail contained in a will means that you should take time to determine who your beneficiaries are and what each person will get. Being clear about your intentions will help avoid disputes during the execution of your will.   

Appoint an executor for your will

Speaking of execution, your will can't be implemented without having an executor. The executor has the responsibility of fulfilling the clauses you've included within this document. They typically work with an estates lawyer and appropriate regulatory bodies to implement your will accordingly. Appointing an executor is useful not just after your death, but also during situations where you're unable to continue managing your estate (such as if you were to become incapacitated).

Seek guidance from a wills and estates lawyer

There are many more considerations that go into preparing a will. For example, how much outstanding debt do you still have? Which properties can be seized for debt repayment after your death? Are you including clauses in your will that are unreasonable to implement? All these grey areas can be cleared up by working closely with a wills and estates lawyer.