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What Types of Assets Should Be Included in a Will?

Last updated on: June 13, 2024

Planning for what happens after you pass away can be a heavy pill to swallow and can oftentimes be something that gets overlooked. The process of creating a Will can quickly get overwhelming. However, having a legally binding document in place that specifically indicates how you would like your estate to be handled is peace of mind for your loved ones left behind. When there is a plan in place, the stress, anxiety, and overwhelm, (and in some cases the unwanted confrontation that may fall upon the executor of a Will), can be greatly reduced or ultimately eliminated.

At The Matus Law Group, our experienced New Jersey wills attorneys are dedicated to making this important process as smooth and clear as possible. We can offer comprehensive guidance to help you identify all the assets that should be included in your Will, ensuring nothing important is overlooked. We understand that every situation is unique, so our attorneys work with you to tailor your Will to your specific circumstances and goals. Let us walk you through each step of creating a Will with confidence and peace of mind. Contact The Matus Law Group today at (732) 785-4453 to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a secure legacy.

Understanding the Difference Between Probate and Non-probate Assets.

Each item you own has some sort of value, whether it be worth a little or a lot. When it comes to specific financial assets such as insurance policies and employer benefits, most require you to list a beneficiary (someone who you have designated to receive the money associated with the policy or fund). Such assets are considered non-probate assets. Items that would be considered probate assets are typically those of which may have a smaller financial value such as clothing, jewelry, electronics, etc. (be can sometimes even be items such as property or vehicles) that have not been specifically included in the Will to a beneficiary.

What May Be the Most Important Assets to Include in Your Will and What is the Very First Thing You Can Do To Begin Creating Your Will?

The most important assets you should include in your Will should revolve around how your money should be used (stocks, bonds, cash from bank accounts, or any other financial investments). Of all the available money, what will be used to pay for an outstanding debt and funeral costs, what should be done with any real estate that you own (including any business ownership or assets if applicable), and guardianship over living things in your care (pets and children). The best way to begin addressing the creation of a Will is to make a list of all of your valuable assets and personal belongings.

What Are Some Assets That Do Not Need to be Included in Your Will?

Assets that do not need to be included are the assets that already have an existing path of possession in their documentation. These would include things such as those non-probate items listed above that require a beneficiary or any assets that have been designated to go into a living trust. Including these, such items in your Will could end up causing complications, especially if different beneficiaries are listed within each piece of documentation. It is always best practice to regularly check-in and update all of the documentation that lists a beneficiary.

The Types of Assets that Should be Included in a Will

When creating a Will, it is important to consider including a comprehensive list of your assets to clarify your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate. Here are the types of assets you should include in a Will:

  • Real Estate: This includes homes, vacation properties, rental properties, and any other real property you own.
  • Business Interests: If you own a business, include your share of the business and any related assets.
  • Financial Accounts: This encompasses bank accounts, money market accounts, and cash reserves.
  • Investment Accounts and Securities: Include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investment vehicles.
  • Retirement Accounts: Although these often transfer via beneficiary designations, mentioning them can clarify your intentions.
  • Life Insurance Policies: Specify any life insurance policies, particularly those without a designated beneficiary.
  • Vehicles: Cars, boats, motorcycles, and other vehicles should be listed.
  • Cryptocurrency: Given their digital nature, it’s crucial to include any cryptocurrency holdings.
  • Personal Property: This type covers jewelry, art, collectibles, and other tangible items of value or sentimental significance.
  • Land: Separate from real estate buildings, any parcels of land you own should be included.
  • Funeral Trusts: If you’ve set up a prepaid funeral or burial arrangement, include this information.
  • Guardianship Considerations: If applicable, include details about the guardianship of minor children or dependent adults.
  • Insurance Policies: Apart from life insurance, consider other policies like health, auto, and home insurance that may have value or require transfer.
  • Joint Tenancy Interests: If you own property jointly, specify your intentions for your share upon your passing.

Including these assets in your Will can help facilitate and clarify the distribution of your estate, reflecting your wishes and providing for your loved ones. Engaging a wills lawyer is crucial to smoothly navigate this process and make sure that you’ve covered all of your necessary assets. Contact The Matus Law Group today to speak with an experienced wills attorney. 

Asset Type Description
Real Estate Homes, vacation properties, rental properties, and any other real property owned.
Business Interests Share of business ownership and related assets if applicable.
Financial Accounts Bank accounts, money market accounts, and cash reserves.
Investment Accounts Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investment vehicles.
Retirement Accounts Mentioned to clarify intentions, although often transfer via beneficiary designations.
Life Insurance Policies Specify policies without designated beneficiaries.
Vehicles Cars, boats, motorcycles, and other vehicles.
Cryptocurrency Digital holdings of cryptocurrency.
Personal Property Jewelry, art, collectibles, and other tangible items of value or sentimental significance.
Land Separate parcels of land owned.
Funeral Trusts Prepaid funeral or burial arrangements.
Guardianship Considerations Details about the guardianship of minor children or dependent adults if applicable.
Insurance Policies Other policies like health, auto, and home insurance that may have value or require transfer.
Joint Tenancy Interests Intentions for shared property ownership upon passing.

Who Will Administer My Last Will or Trust?

Executors are the people you have named in your last will as the person to carry out the instructions of your will or trust. Trustees of living trusts also play the role of executor. The trustee is responsible for overseeing the administration of your trust, usually until assets have been distributed to beneficiaries. The role of a trustee usually lasts longer than an executor.  You can name a bank or other financial institution as the co-executor of your trust or last will. A trustee often has some discretion about when and how distributions are made to beneficiaries. A support trust for minor children, for example, can allow your trustee to decide how much money is spent on education, spending allowances, social life, and budget.

Although the title may sound easy, trustees and executors have important responsibilities. These responsibilities include managing investments and negotiating or paying creditors, on top of many other duties. 

No one other than you is required to receive copies of your Will. You can request copies if you would like to have them but it is not required by law.  Your estate planning lawyer will keep a copy of the Will in a confidential file, but they are not allowed to make any copies of the Will without your authorization.

Matus Law Group is Comprised of a Carefully Selected Team Who Combined, Have More Than 20 Years of Experience in Estate Planning For the Future of Families.

Aside from making the determination of what should or should not be included in your Will, it must also contain the appropriate language to be binding in the court of law. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help plan for the future of your loved ones, contact us today!

Christine Matus

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Christine Matus

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