Your WillMaker Will Does Not Contain a List of Your Property

Question

Why doesn't my will contain a list of my property?

Answer

Your WillMaker will doesn’t contain a list of your property because it passes the bulk of your property either as your “entire estate” or as your “residuary” estate. That is, it passes all or most of your property to one or more people, without having to name individual items of property. The program also gives you a chance to leave specific items to different beneficiaries.

So with the WillMaker will, you do two things, 1) you leave the bulk of your entire estate to one or more people, and 2) if you choose to, you name beneficiaries for individual items that won’t be included in the bulk gift. This is a common and useful way to leave property because most people will want to leave almost everything to a spouse, a group of children, or other close friends or family members.

That said, you could list out every piece of property as specific bequests. But doing so would be time-consuming, leave lots of room for error, and require you to update your will often as your assets change. And even if you attempt to list every item of your property, you would still need to name a residuary beneficiary to get “everything else.” There is no reason to name your primary beneficiary again and again for different pieces of property when you can just say “and everything else goes to Jim.”

All of that said, after you die, your executor will have to provide the court with a list of the property you owned at the time of your death. That will be tedious work, but it shouldn’t be too onerous. If you want to help your executor with this task, you could leave a separate letter, with some suggestions or lists that will help inventory your property.