The basic components of a will are: appointing an Executor, designating your Beneficiaries, making Specific Gifts (to specific Beneficiaries) and providing instructions about what you want done with everything else, which is gathered together into what is called the Residue of your estate.
- Designate a non-family member to be your Executor. It eases the burden on those already grieving and avoids tension in the family.
- Clearly identify your beneficiaries by full names, where they live and birth dates. Banks and other institutions now require birth dates, so put them right in the will./li>
- Leave special things, even if they don’t have great value, to special people. They’ll appreciate the thoughtfulness.
- The “everything else” of an estate is called the “residue”. It’s the accumulation of bank accounts, liquidated investments, proceeds from the sale of property and possessions, and so on, usually in a bank account designated by the bank as an “estate account.” From there, the Executor will give the beneficiaries what they are due, usually, but not always, in equal shares. Make sure you provide for contingencies and alternatives in case a beneficiary pre-deceased you. You don’t want to leave the Executor unsure what to do with a left over share.