“Pumpkin spice, Ugg boots, Applebees… do those make a basic will?”
You can fake a Louis Vuitton bag, but you cannot fake a will. Wills are far from basic.
First, you and your spouse should each have individual wills- even if they mirror one another. A separate will not only accounts for property you solely own or children from previous relationships, but a joint will cannot be modified without the other spouse’s consent- meaning that if something happens to your spouse, you’re stuck with the provisions in that original will. Since that really throws a wrench in things, especially if you remarry, don’t skip this.
Each of your wills need these basic provisions:
Not the morbid kind. Pick someone you trust to distribute your estate in a responsible, unbiased way- you probably won’t want to choose the cousin who’s always hitting you up for cash. Your executor can be a trusted family friend, your lawyer, or a bank. You’ll likely pay a small fee for the lawyer or bank to execute your will, usually between 2 and 4% of your estate’s assets, so be sure to factor this into your will.
In other words, who gets what, or the whole reason you’re writing this document. You might assume that your great-grandmother’s antique jewelry box would go to your daughter, but you need to put it in writing. Any individual item of value needs to be addressed.
On the flip side: if you intend to not leave someone with any of your assets, you need to specify that too. If not, your heirs could end up in a legal battle with a slighted family member claiming that they were forgotten or that someone influenced you to leave them out of your will.
Ask your close family members or friends if they’re up to the task of being legal guardians for your minor children if you unexpectedly pass away. Plan ahead and include a backup guardian if something happens to the designated guardian.
Some parents of younger children include letters with their will, expressing how they’d like their children to be raised in the event a guardian steps in. This isn’t a legally binding doc in some states but it can be helpful to your will’s executor and future guardian. Your guardian may still say “Heck no am I doing Elimination Communication with your rugrat!” however. Basic.