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Choosing Your Personal Representative
Your estate's personal representative is responsible for inventorying your estate's assets, for dealing with creditors, and for making sure that the wishes contained in your will are given effect. Your personal representative should be trustworthy and business savvy. Ideally, your personal representative should live near to where your estate will be settled. It's good practice to choose a back-up personal representative so that settling your estate will not be delayed in the event your first choice is unwilling or unable to do the work required. It is customary to choose your spouse to be your personal representative.
Appointing a Guardian or Guardians for Minor Children
Appointing guardians for minor children is probably the most important reason why young people should create a will. In selecting a guardian, important factors to consider include the guardian's geographic location, economic stability, pre-existing relationships with your children, and their age and energy. While naming guardians for your children in your will is not mandatory, it is a very good thing to do. Ideally, you should name one guardian and one backup guardian in case your first choice is unwilling or unable to do the job.
Specific gifts are gifts of property or money to be made to a particular recipient that are included in your will. An example of a specific gift is "$5,000 to my cousin John " or "My 2004 Honda Civic to my daughter Jane ." Please use the spaces below to describe any specific gifts that you want to be included in your will. Please use the blank space at the bottom of this section if you need to make additional gifts. If you have no specific gifts then everything not named in a gift memo will be distributed in accordance with the residuary clause (see below).
Residuary Clause Beneficiaries
Every well written will includes a residuary clause. A residuary clause gives away everything else that wasn't given to someone as a specific gift. Because of the catch-all nature of the residuary clause, beneficiaries listed in this clause get gifts in the form of percentages of your estate. The traditional approach to using a residuary clause is to give everything (100%) to your spouse or, if the spouse predeceases the testator, then to split everything evenly (50-50 or as appropriate) among your surviving children.
Limitations on Gifts to Minors and Young Adults
By using springing executory trusts, it is possible to have large gifts held for young people until they reach a specified age. This kind of a testamentary device can be used to keep probate money and property safe until the beneficiary has had time to mature.
Choosing a Trustee
Every trust must have a trustee. It is the trustee's job to safeguard the trust's money and to make distributions as directed by the trust document. In situations where the amount to be held in trust will exceeed $500,000, you may wish to have a bank or a trust company serve as trustee. If you will be choosing a friend or a family member to serve as the trustee then you should choose someone who is trustworthy and business savvy.
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