An Essential Checklist for Drafting a Will

Writing a will may seem morbid, complicated and overwhelming – but it does not have to be. Taking the time to properly plan for your estate, your loved ones and yourself in the future can give you (and your family) peace of mind that, regardless of what tomorrow may bring, the appropriate safeguards in place.

To help you get started with the process of developing a comprehensive will for your estate plan, here’s an essential checklist.

When you are ready for some experienced, professional assistance devising a will and/or the rest of your estate plan, simply contact the Santa Clarita attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman.

  • Start by inventorying your personal assets – Take stock of all of the assets that you own individually (i.e., not jointly or along with any other party), such as (but not limited to) real estate, bank accounts, motor vehicles, retirement accounts, stocks, jewelry/art, etc. These assets will need to be included in your will (with the option of transferring them into a trust upon your passing to help your loved ones avoid probate).
    • Pro Tip: Don’t forget to include your digital assets, such as PayPal accounts, websites, etc. For these assets, be sure to provide the necessary login info, etc. so your executor can easily access them later (and so that these assets aren’t compromised, stolen, etc.)
  • Designate your beneficiaries – For each asset mentioned in your will, be sure to name a beneficiary, which can include an individual or entity like a charity, etc.
    • Pro Tip: Be aware that, for some assets (like monies held in checking and savings accounts), you can name an heir (i.e. designate a “payable-on-death,” POD, or “transfer-on-death,” TOD, party) with the institution that holds these assets on your behalf. This can allow for the transfer of these assets directly to the designated beneficiary (again, without the need to probate them).
  • Choose your executor – Select the individual whom you trust to administer your will and settle your estate. Good choices for executors will be individuals who are trustworthy, responsible and diligent, and they can include people you’re related to, as well as professionals like lawyers.
    • Pro Tip: Be sure to name a backup executor in case your first choice of executor is not able to serve in this position for any reason in the future.
  • Make plans for your minor child(ren), if applicable – If you have at least one minor child, then be sure to include plans for the care of that child in the future (if you end up passing before the child becomes a legal adult).
    • Pro Tip: Setting up trusts for the financial care of minor children can be a smart idea, especially if your child has special needs (as the assets held and distributed via the trust will not generally impact the child’s rights to disability benefits – or other government aid).

Contact the Santa Clarita Attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman

For more insight regarding wills and estate plans that will protect you, your family and your legacy, contact the trusted Santa Clarita attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman. For more than 38 years, we have been dedicated to providing our clients with personalized, responsive service, as well as superior representation for their important legal matters.

You can contact our firm by calling (818) 946-2056 or by filling out the contact form on this page.

From offices based in North Hills, we provide the highest quality legal services to clients throughout Santa Clarita, the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, and the greater Los Angeles area.