Reasons to include property in a will
By including specific property in your will, you can make sure that your property is given to the people you want in the way you want. Including property in your will can also help your family avoid disagreements and stress over deciding who should get what, since you will have decided this for them.
Types of property to include in a will
Typical assets that can be included in a will are:
- Real property, such as real estate, land, and buildings
- Cash, including money in checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market accounts, etc.
- Intangible personal property, such as stocks, bonds, and other forms of business ownership, as well as intellectual property, royalties, patents, and copyrights, etc.
- Unproductive property, such as valuable objects like cars, artwork, jewelry, and furniture, etc.
You may also include your “residuary estate” in a will, which refers to any assets that are not specifically left to anyone. You can designate a “residuary beneficiary” who will inherit the remaining assets that are not left to other named beneficiaries.
Be aware that there is some property you cannot include in a will. To learn more, see our article Property You Can't Include in a Will.
Taking inventory of your assets
Making a list of all valuable assets helps you ensure that you’re not accidentally leaving any significant property out of your will.
If you have significant property or assets, or particularly elaborate investments or financial arrangements, determining the best way to distribute those assets may be complicated. An attorney can review your assets with you to determine the most tax-efficient way to distribute your assets, which many include establishing testamentary trusts or using other financial tools. If you do not have significant or complex assets that require legal counsel, you will simply need to decide who will receive your assets and how they will be distributed.
To learn more about distributing your assets, see our article Inheritors and Beneficiaries.