QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MAKING A WILL
Before making a will, there are several things you should consider. Perhaps the most important is what will happen if, like 2/3rds of Americans, you die without one, risking a costly and time-consuming mess.
You might want to make some notes and think about a few things first. (Check the end of the document for a link to download this as a PDF).
You and Your Family
What is your birthday and what is that of your spouse?
Have you been married before? If so, does your former spouse have any right to your pension, 401k, VA benefits or other assets?
Do you have children? If so, what are their names and ages? Where do they live? Are they all children of (or adopted by) you and your current spouse? Is your family a blended family, with yours, mine and ours or maybe just yours and mine? If so, which children are yours by birth or adoption? Are any of them minors?
If you do not have living children, do you have living parents or siblings or grandchildren? Note their names, ages and contact information.
Are any of these people (or their spouse or child) a resident of a state other than Texas? A citizen or resident of another country? There may be an inheritance tax.
Does someone in your family need your help? Maybe someone who is going to college, or leaving a marriage, or someone who is ill or unemployed and not quite on their feet yet?
Who among your family and friends is good with people? Who is well organized? Who is good at standing up for themselves and saying “no?” Who is curious and good at asking questions? Who is careful with their money?
Bank Accounts [pass per signature card*] $___________
CDs and Money Market Accounts [pass to owner*] $___________
Money Market Funds [pass to named beneficiary*] $___________
Life Insurance [passes to named beneficiary] $___________
Home: approximate market value [passes to owner*] $___________
Other real property, if any [passes to owner*] $___________
Your IRAs [pass to named beneficiary] $___________
Your Spouse’s IRAs [pass to named beneficiary] $___________
Your 401(k)s, 403(b)s, etc. [pass to spouse or, if spouse has waived, to named beneficiary] $___________
Your Spouse’s 401(k)s, 403(b)s, etc. [pass to spouse or, if spouse has waived, to named beneficiary] $___________
Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s, etc. [pass to named beneficiary] $___________
Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, REITs, etc.[pass to named beneficiary] $___________
Annuities [pass to named beneficiary if not a life annuity] $___________
Oil-and-gas or mineral leases [pass to owner*] $___________
* These should be held “joint with right of survivorship” with your spouse in order for 100% to be available immediately—if this does not interfere with Medicaid planning.
Do you own part or all of a business?
Do you own any automobiles, RVs or watercraft; art, antiques or collectibles?
Do you have a pension plan? What does it pay? Does it pay survivor’s benefits?
Were you in the military? Are you receiving any benefits now? Do you have a Survivor’s Benefit Plan?
How much do you expect to receive from Social Security when you retire? (You can check at www.socialsecurity.gov)
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