Robert D. Paulbeck, Attorney at Law
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What details should I include in my will?

Adults often hear that they should have a will. Many people know that it's important to have one. They understand that it ensures that their assets are passed on seamlessly to their heirs. What few people know though is exactly what details are needed to ensure that the process goes off without a hitch. This is why, if you contact a clerk of court in Trenton, they'll always advise you to seek legal counsel for guidance.

One of the first decisions that you'll need to make before youdraft your will is choose whom your executor or personal representative will be. Whomever you pick, the person needs to be someone whom you can trust. They'll be responsible for paying your final expenses and creditors, filing your last tax return and distributing your assets to your heirs.

Testators should have a few heirs in mind as well as a list of alternates. This will come in handy if one passes away before you.

Your executor will need to distribute any remaining assets belonging to your estate so it's important for these "residuary estate" items to be addressed in your will. You may choose an organization or individual to to receive them.

You should spell out clearly in your will how you wish for your final expenses, including taxes and funeral costs, to be paid.

If you have any interest-bearing accounts, you should document where any remaining proceeds that are paid to the estate after your death shall go.

Business-owning testators should specify how they want the succession of their companies to be handled, as well as any operational objectives that they may have. Testators who own real estate should detail their preferences as it relates to maintaining their investment's value.

Finally, testators should take time to detail who they'd like to take over the care of their much-loved pets in their wills.

Many people avoid planning their estates because they don't want to think about passing away. It's a reality that all of us face, however.

By taking the time to document your wishes, you protect your loved ones from having to endure a long, drawn-out probate process. An estate planning and probate attorney can advise you of what to include in your will to ensure that a Michigan judge upholds it as valid and honors your wishes.

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