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Get organized when you are preparing your will

Are you thinking about drawing up your will? Before you make an appointment with your attorney, take some time to get organized. Gathering pertinent information ahead of time makes the planning go more smoothly.

Here are four tips that will help you prepare for a productive meeting:

1. List your assets

Many times, the older you are, the more assets you have — but everybody has something of financial importance. Your list should include your credit cards, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, valuable collections and properties. Remember that any joint property you own with your spouse falls outside the will, including joint bank accounts. Ownership will simply pass to the survivor.

2. Remember digital and biological assets

Perhaps you have a leftover frozen embryo. This is considered property and should be listed. You probably also have digital assets: domain names, social media accounts and anything else online that generates income.

3. Choose guardians

Be cautious about naming guardians for minor children. This will be a major part of your will. To divide responsibilities, you may want to name two: a guardian of the person and a guardian of the estate. If your children are older, you might think about recommending a financial planner who can provide advice and guidance about finances, depending on what the older kids inherit.

4. Name your executor(s)

It is a good idea to name an executor plus a backup, known as a successor executor or successor representative, who can step in if the executor you select cannot serve for some reason. The executor might be your spouse, your adult child or a close relative. His or her responsibility will be to manage your estate and carry out the instructions in your will.

5. Make your will accessible

Do not make the mistake of putting your will someplace that is difficult for people to find. You might leave the original with your attorney and tell your spouse or named executor where to find a copy. This is simply common sense and another example of getting organized when the time comes for you to prepare your will.

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