funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI

Checklist for Writing a Will

After funerals at funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI, your property and assets will be distributed among your immediate family members. If you don’t have a will, the estate will go into probate, and the courts will appoint a judge to decide how everything will be split up among your legal (according to the law) heirs. This may mirror what you would have done if you’d written a will or it may be completely different than what you would have done.

To avoid your estate going into probate and having your assets and property distributed arbitrarily by the courts, you should write a will that specifies what you want done with your estate after you die.

There are software programs that will step you through the process of making a will, and there are legal websites that enable you to create a will online. Technically, a will is legally-binding as long as you have signed and dated it, but good practice is to have it witnessed by at least two people (non-relatives) and notarized (the bank where you have your checking and savings accounts will usually provide this service at no charge).

So, what goes into a will?

The main purpose of a will is to state your final wishes and to include very specific information about how you want real property and financial assets distributed after your death.

To begin the process of writing a will, you should itemize all of your financial assets and real property that you own. This should include bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and trusts or inheritances (if applicable) as well as real estate holdings, vehicles (both transportation and recreational), and livestock (if applicable).

You should also list all debts and liabilities for which you are responsible. This would include loans, mortgages, and credit card debt.

The next thing you need to do is to decide who your beneficiaries are going to be. While typically these are immediate family members, you may have extended family members or close friends to whom you’d like to make specific bequests. You can also name organizations or even pets (a caretaker must be appointed to act for the pet) as beneficiaries.

If you have several beneficiaries, be sure to detail how you want assets distributed among them. Be sure to have a list of alternate beneficiaries in mind in case your primary beneficiaries predecease you.

Next, you’ll need to appoint a person to execute your will. This should be someone who you trust beyond a shadow of a doubt and about whose character you have absolutely no questions. Your executor will handle all the aspects of managing your estate after you die, including settling debts, paying taxes, and distributing your assets to the beneficiaries you name.

You will also want to name an alternate executor in case the primary executor predeceases you.

Be sure to discuss your plans with the people you want to name as the primary and alternate executors of your will. Some people may not want to or may not be able to serve in that capacity.

If you have minor children, designate a legal guardian for them (be sure to ask the person before appointing them in a legal document). If you don’t appoint a legal guardian in your will, then the court will appoint a legal guardian – who may or may not be your first choice – for your minor children.

Once your will is completed, store it with your important papers and make sure your executor knows where it is and has complete access to it.

For more information about making wills at funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help. You can come by our funeral home at 46530 Romeo Plank Rd., Macomb, MI, 48044 or you can contact us today at (586) 412-8999.