Who will inherit your estate assets? That may be an easy question to answer on the face of it.
However, have you carefully considered:
How will your funeral expenses and debts be paid? How do you want to divide one house amongst three children.
If the executor of your will is not the main beneficiary, property may have to be sold to pay executor's fees.
Have a look at the information listed below, which could help you streamline your thoughts and how you set out the provisions in your will.
In calculating the net worth of your estate assets, the executor must include the following:
Once a value has been ascribed to all the above, it is a simple matter to do the sum to calculate the net worth:
Assets - Liabilities = Net Worth
Assets: everything of value e.g. money, personal property such as jewelry, art, vehicles, real estate etc.
Liabilities: Financial debts such as money owed on credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, finance charges on vehicles etc.
Note: Be sure to also review the guidelines on our main page:
Writing a Will.
The information on this page is not intended as advice on estate planning, but takes a look at common problems faced when distributing estate assets.
Cash Disbursements: What if you specify cash amounts to go to organizations or beneficiaries, but your assets consist mainly of real estate. In this case the property must be sold which can take time and the market may be at a low. Perhaps bequeathing the real estate itself - if possible - will make it easier.
Shared Inheritance: You leave one house to two children. There is a dispute amongst them because one wants to keep it in the family, or live in it whilst the other wants to sell it. Perhaps you should leave specific instructions for the house to be sold at market value with the oldest child having first option to buy it.
Collectibles: As an avid stamp collector you've built up a valuable collection, but none of your beneficiaries display an interest in the hobby. You can help your executor by documenting the catalogue and realization value since you have best knowledge in this field. This can save time and money during probate.
Web Assets: A website such as the one you are currently visiting has a value. If you have not transferred ownership of the site to an LLC or Trust or any other legal entity, it will form part of your estate. Do you have a beneficiary who has the knowledge / passion to take over as webmaster or would it be better to sell the website? Do you have a comprehensive list of passwords and instructions in place to assist in the smooth hand-over of the site?
Specific Instructions: You can instruct the executor to sell a specific item first e.g. a boat (rather than a second flat) to realize cash for funeral expenses and debts.
Business Interests: If you are not the sole proprietor of a business or have minor share holdings in a company, you need to review your shareholders agreements to ensure the disposal of these estate assets are in accordance with the agreements.
Documentation: Having taken the pro-active step to make a will, you should take the time to organize records of policies, deeds of sale, agreements, receipts to calculate capital gains tax etc.
This warrants special mention because you may wish to provide for family members with special needs where a straightforward bequest will not be the best way to do so.
For example, children who are not old enough to legally own property, or though old enough may lack mental capacity to manage the inheritance.
Or a family member may have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or may be serving a prison sentence or may be in an abusive relationship with a third party.
Take a look at how a Testamentary Trust can be set up and administered in a number of ways to suit your requirements.
An organized and considered distribution of your estate assets can speed up the probate process and make the job of the executor a lot easier.