If you are just starting to think about your estate planning or if your wishes are relatively straightforward and simple, you might consider writing a will. This is usually a good idea for any adult in Detroit and elsewhere. It can help to understand the elements that make up a basic will.

According to the American Bar Association, you must be of legal age – meaning age 18 or older – and of sound mind when writing your will. In other words, you should be able to make important legal decisions on your own. When beginning your will, you will want to state your full name, address, date and other pertinent information, before stating that this document is your most current one and takes precedence over any other will you may have made before. The first item that would be taken care of after your death is the handling of your debts; therefore, you would want to name an executor and give him or her the authorization to pay these debts on your behalf with the assets from your estate.

After this, you can list the remainder of your assets, including property, bank accounts and personal possessions, and state your wishes as to how they are to be divided. Your surviving spouse and children would typically inherit the bulk of your estate after your death. You might list how you want your personal items to be divided, as well as any additional beneficiaries or anyone you plan to leave out of your will. You can also include personal messages to your loved ones. If you have minor children, it would be wise to appoint your chosen guardian for them in the event you and your spouse were to die at the same time.

Other considerations are involved in writing a will, such as taxes. You might also want to consider creating a trust for more complex matters. This information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.