The Virginia State Bar offers tips to help people put together a will that reflects their objectives. We have guided clients through the process of preparing a will that helps achieve their estate planning goals.

Writing your will starts with a thoughtful examination of a few key considerations.

Take inventory of what you own

Assemble a complete list of your assets. Your assets may include your primary residence and other real estate like a vacation home. Your list should also include personal possessions and financial assets like life insurance policies and retirement plans. Try to estimate the value of your assets or, if you own them jointly, the value of your interest.

Determine your debts 

Assess your debts so that you know what you owe third-parties. For each debt, note important terms like the outstanding principal balance and due date.

Think about caring for your family and other possible beneficiaries

Taking into account your property and what you owe, think about how your estate will satisfy your debts and how you want your assets distributed. Do you jointly own your home with your spouse? Do you have a family heirloom that your sister would love? Perhaps you have a favorite charity that you want to support after your death. These factors may influence your plan.

If you have minor children, your will may appoint a guardian to care for your children after your death. Your will may also contemplate a trust to fund your children’s education.

Designate a person to implement your plan

After you have outlined your intentions, consider who will act as your executor or personal representative to carry out your wishes.

When you give thought to these key considerations at the planning stage, the process of writing your will does not need to be intimidating. You may visit our wills page for more information.