Having a will can be very important. There’s real value to being able to manage your estate and deciding what happens to your personal property after you’re gone.
For one, it resolves any issues that might arise within your family concerning who gets what and when they get it; you can even leave people out of your will that would otherwise stand to receive part of the inheritance. A land trust is not the same as forming an irrevocable trust.
Having a will also means you get to decide who the executor of your estate is. Since they are in charge of everything, from notifying the banks to paying estate taxes, you can appoint someone you trust and can count on, even if they aren’t family members.
As important as wills are, most Americans don’t have one. However, getting a will is fairly simple, and it’s even something you can do yourself. There are many options online to simply fill in the blanks, but you also have the option to draft your will yourself. Learn more about gun trusts and pet trusts here.
To start off, do a little research and understand the laws that apply to your state. Does it allow handwritten wills? How many witnesses do you need to sign off the will? Once you are clear on how things work and what applies to you, you can proceed to start the document itself.
The will must start with a title, stating this is your “Last Will and Testament”. After this, you begin the introduction of your will. Within the introduction, you must state your full name, home address, and state that you are over 18 years of age, are the sound of mind, and that you are not creating the will under duress.
After this, you decide who the executor will be. Your spouse or closest friend could be great options, but you decide who to trust with this great responsibility. Informing the person to see if they’re willing to be trusted with this responsibility would be the best way to go about it. Having a backup or alternate executor could also be useful, in the event that your first choice is unavailable or unwilling at the time of your passing.
Now, you decide who your inheritors are. Be specific and clear with their names, so that there’s absolutely no ambiguity once the will goes into effect. While your primary heirs are your children and partner, you could also outline anyone else you want to include in your will. Remember to allow for contingencies, in the event any of your heirs predecease you.
Once you’ve listed your heirs, designate who gets what. List your assets, bank accounts, real estate, and any personal property you own. Once this is done, you could assign a percentage to your heirs, say 50% of your assets go to your partner and the other 50% is divided between your children. You could also be more specific and bequeath specific items to specific individuals. For example, you could leave all of your furniture to your partner and your Beanie Babies collection to your closest friend.
Just remember than assets with joint ownership or things like life insurance with an already named beneficiary cannot be included in your will.
If you have any minor children, the will is also the place where you can designate a guardian to take care of them. As with your executor, remember to ask if the person is willing to take on this responsibility.
Once all is done, you have to sign your will. Remember to check your state’s laws before doing so, as some states require this to be notarized (being witnessed and stamped by a notary).
The final step would be to have your witnesses sign the will. Most states require at least two witnesses, while others require three. Be careful to check all the laws that apply to your state, as this could make the entire thing invalid.
Just remember to keep your will safe, and to inform your loved ones where it can be found.
Now that you know what to do and how to do it, you can be prepared and look after your family and loved ones. Learn more about DIY wills here.