Estate planning: Making Decisions About Your Heirs

When you're ready to create your will, you'll need to decide who you want to inherit your assets; however, you may also need to make the difficult decision to disinherit someone. Find out exactly what you need to know about heirs before you start creating this important document.

One of the most important documents you can create is a will. This offers a useful and reasonable way to make sure that your friends, relatives, and colleagues know exactly what your final wishes are. When you meet with an attorney to begin estate planning, you'll have the chance to create your will and dictate exactly what should happen with each of your belongings. You'll also be able to choose who will receive assets from your estate, but what happens if you don't want someone to receive anything? You'll have the opportunity to disinherit someone from your legal will. This is one way that you can ensure they do not benefit from your estate after you pass away. Before you disinherit someone or name others as heirs, there are a few things you need to know.

Planning Your Estate

When you meet with your attorney to plan your estate, your lawyer will guide you through a series of questions. These questions are designed to make sure that together, you cover all of the important topics that should be addressed in a will. For example, your lawyer may ask you about your final wishes, what your desires for burial might be, and what your funeral preferences are. You'll also have the chance to talk about your assets, both physical and monetary, and to decide what will happen to those after you pass away. Make sure you seriously consider what your wishes and desires are, as this will streamline the planning process.

Evaluating Your Relationships

When you create your will, you'll need to evaluate your relationships. Personal and family relationships are very important in end-of-life planning. You may want to choose a Power of Attorney, for example, who can make medical choices for you if you become unable to speak for yourself. You will also need to select the executor of your estate, as well as your heirs. Before you begin this process, consider your personal relationships. You may want to meet with the people you plan to name as Power of Attorney or Executor of your estate, as these are serious responsibilities. Meeting in person also gives you the chance to verbally review what your desires are.

Choosing Your Heirs

While most adults realize they'll need to choose their heirs who will receive benefits and assets from the estate, it's important to realize that in some cases, you'll need to specifically disinherit someone. This typically applies to adult children you do not wish to leave property or financial assets to; however, in some cases, you may want to specify other family members you do not want to receive anything from your estate. If you suspect that a relative will try to cause problems after you pass away, you may want to specify in your will that you do not wish them to receive anything. You may also want to name relatives you no longer have contact with or children you believe should not be recipients of your estate's assets.

Meet with your attorney regularly to keep your will updated. It's especially important to update your will after serious life changes, such as marriage, divorce, or adoption. Your attorney can help ensure your will is as up-to-date as possible and that your wishes are stated clearly.