Who Gets What in Your Will?
It's never to early to plan

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By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)
May 24, 2002

Q. As I begin to plan my will and last wishes, what do I need to take into consideration when deciding who should get what?

A. According to the National Association of Financial and Estate Planning (NAFEP), here are the kinds of heir-planning issues to consider:

  • Do you want to bequeath equal or unequal shares?
  • At what age should each heir inherit? (You can set it up so that they receive specified chunks at specified ages.)
  • How do you want to distribute non-divisible property (such as a house or the bowling ball with which you won a tournament).
  • Want to leave out or disinherit any heirs?
  • How do you want to handle complicated family situations, where spouses have children from other marriages?
  • Would you like to enact special provisions for a reckless child that spends with abandon?
  • How do you want to help mentally or physically disabled heirs?
  • Would you like to ensure that heirs will use their share to pay for college, or whatever you had in mind?
  • What happens if an heir "predeceases" you?
  • Any special gifts you might want to give -- such as to favorite nieces, Fools, or charities?

Another good resource for learning about estate planning issues is Estate Planning Links. Also, check out our previous Q&A on how much funerals cost, the Funeral Consumers Alliance, Profits of Death, and the long but informative Funerals and Ripoffs.

Hey -- it's depressing stuff, but it can save you and your loved ones a lot of headaches and money!

If you have any questions, thoughts or opinions on this topic, share them with others on our discussion board for Ask the Fool.

This question and answer is adapted from The Motley Fool Money Guide: Answers to Your Questions About Saving, Spending and Investing. For answers to this and 499 other common money questions, check it out -- it's a handy resource.