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How To Prepare To Write A Will

Information to Gather To Prepare For Writing A Will

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To be sure your Will covers all the necessary bases, collect at least the following information about your finances and your beneficiaries:

  • The full names, addresses, and birth dates of your spouse, children and any other beneficiaries.
  • If you already know the identity of the person who will make sure what you provide in the will happens (your personal representative/executor), include his or her full name, address and telephone numbers. (If you don't  know who you want to act as personal representative/executor, see Choosing A Personal Representative/Executor).
  • The following information about your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and other financial assets:
    • The name of the bank or company involved.
    • The account number.
    • The name in which the account is registered. (If there is another person named as co-owner of an asset, check to seewhether the title is registered in such a way that you can leave your share to someone else or whether it automatically passes to the other named person on your death. For information about various forms of ownership and what happens at death, click here.
    • The amount in the account.
  • A list of your retirement accounts, including who is named as beneficiary and the current amounts in each account.
  • For each life insurance and annuity policy:
    • Name of insurance company.
    • Policy number.
    • Owner (with individual policies, the insured is generally the owner).
    • Beneficiaries.
    • Amount of the death benefit.
  • Information about, and approximate market value of, any other major assets such as antiques, CD collections, cars, real estate or a business you own.
  • A list of your debts, including the amount and to whom payable.
  • Copies of old Wills, trust agreements, divorce decrees, and pre- or post-nuptial agreements.

To help you in this process, we provide a worksheet you can print. See: Wills- Worksheet.

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