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Death Decisions Deciding Who Gets What in Your Will

Your last will and testament is an important legal document that allows your family to carry out your wishes. You may not want to think about the time when you will die, but some careful thought and planning when writing your will can save your family members much heartache and even money when you do die. The last thing you want is for family fights to break out at the funeral over the inheritance. Here are some of the items you should consider when making your will and deciding who should receive what possessions you have when you die.


An executor is the person who is legally responsible for executing or meeting the terms of the will and will carry out other legal obligations, such as closing bank accounts, paying remaining debts of the estate, and notifying the appropriate authorities of the death. A husband and wife will usually nominate each other as executors of the will, so that if one passes away before the other one, the remaining spouse has control over important legal issues such as the mortgage. However, you should also name a secondary executor in case you both die at the same time, such as in a car accident. You could name an adult child or a trusted friend as executor of the will in the case of an aging and widowed parent.

Guardian and Trustee of Any under Age Children

Since you are not likely to update your will very often, it is advisable to consider who will be the legal guardian and trustee of any under-age children at the time of your death. You can do this even if you have no children yet. You name your spouse first and then a secondary guardian to ensure your children will go to someone you love and trust with such an important charge if you both happen to die at the same time. You may like to discuss the issue with your chosen guardian before you name the guardian in your will.

Fair Distribution of Wealth

You can decide what will be a fair distribution of your wealth. Your spouse should inherit everything if you predecease your spouse, but consider whom you would want to inherit if your spouse dies too. Generally, you split the inheritance equally among family members who are the same level; however, there may be some circumstances where you decide on an uneven split. If you do decide to split the inheritance unevenly, it is better to provide an explanation within the will to show you have considered the situation and to prevent the family contesting the will.

Charity Gifts

Many people like to include a donation to a specific charity within the will. If you want to leave $5000 to the Red Cross, for example, you can write this in your will. The executor pays the money to the charity first, before splitting the rest of inheritance according to the percentage split you have nominated.

Special Bequests

Consider any special items or heirlooms you want to pass down. You may like to bequeath special objects to particular friends and family members. If you have a crystal vase you inherited from your own great grandmother, you may want to pass it on to your daughter, or eldest granddaughter. You can decide to include as many bequests as you like in your will. It is a nice idea to include small remembrances to people who are important in your life. A book, a hand-made quilt, or any item you attach personal significance to can become a cherished way for family and friends to remember you.

Final Words

Your last will and testament include your final words to your loved ones. Some people like to write personal notes and sealed billets to particular loved ones. Others will include a statement about the good influences in their life and even explain personal religious beliefs. The people you love will treasure and remember whatever you say in your last will and testament.
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Article Added on Monday, August 3, 2009
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