If you've finally sat down to start working on your will and get your estate into shape, you're making the right move. You'll also find out that it's not just about having a piece of paper that says who gets what. You've got to remember four things as you create your estate plan to ensure that everything -- and everyone -- is taken care of.
Make plans for your pet if you don't have a spouse who would automatically assume ownership. Find a relative, neighbor, or friend who would be willing to take the pet in and care for it after your death; if possible, set aside money in the will for that person so that future medical bills for the pet won't be a problem. If you don't include the pet, which is technically considered property, then the animal could end up in a shelter instead.
Ongoing Money Generators, Patents, and More
If you have websites, monetized blogs, patents, or even a sole-proprietorship business, you need to assign people to take care of closing those or taking over ownership. This is especially true if you are a sole proprietor; leave instructions for people about figuring out if you have products that need to be sent out and which clients need to be notified.
Don't forget your living will, do-not-resuscitate order, and any other end-of-life medical issues. It's best to have those in place so your doctor and family know what your wishes are. You don't want to end up in a legal limbo on life support, with half your family wanting to keep you on life support and the other half wanting to let you go. Make your wishes known now.
Finally, remember to have a couple of people -- those who you're assigning your estate to would be good choices -- and have them read over the instructions. Have them envision enacting the instructions so that they can spot any contradictory items that could cause confusion after your death, such as claiming part of your estate will go to one person but then assigning decision-making power about that part to another person.
A lawyer from a firm like Skeen Law Offices can help you plot out the entire will, trust, and any other paperwork you need. While this might seem like a huge task now, there is an end in sight, and you'll be better off having finished your estate plan sooner rather than later.