Some people believe Wills are just for the rich, who own plenty of wealth and assets. While other people think they are way too young and still have a substantial amount of time before they need to draft one. But life is uncertain; you never know what lies ahead.
Although people, more often than not, overlook estate planning because, admittedly, it isn’t a fun topic to ponder over. However, to say estate planning is crucial would be a bit of an understatement. That’s because it isn’t just essential; it’s the single most critical thing an individual must do in their life.
A Will is a bounded legal document stipulating the distribution of your hard-earned money, assets, and possessions. For instance, if you possess property or precious family heirlooms, you may want to leave them for your partner, children, or other loved ones once you pass away. But the non-existence of a Will can make things convoluted.
Fortunately, you can create your own Will without the need to get in touch with a lawyer. However, to be rendered valid, the Will must contain the appropriate language and be concise and unequivocal.
So, here are some basics to know before you begin:
Leverage free templates or online services
If your financial circumstances are somewhat straightforward and you don’t want to disinherit a kid or spouse. In that case, you can attempt to draw up your own Will without legal assistance. You can decide to either type on a computer or write it by hand, also known as holographic Will (only if a state permits).
However, it’s relevant to note that each state has unique legal requirements, and sifting through these statutes can be an uphill struggle. Therefore, one best approach is to create a Will online by filling the blank spaces with appropriate details and naming the executors and beneficiaries.
An online Will can be a great starting point as you contemplate how to address various clauses. The online service provides essential instructions and guides you through the entire Will creation process. Not only this, but the online service can help you create a legitimate Will that aligns with your needs.
Jot down all the assets
Before you sit down to create a Will, you might want to know the details of all your assets. An accurate picture of all your possessions and property will make things streamlined for you. Not only this, but the list can also simplify things for the executor when they wind up your estate.
Therefore, scribble every relevant and vital asset, such as bank accounts, lands, jewelry, vacation properties, investments, art pieces, bonds, stocks, royalties, cars, and collectibles. However, there isn’t any need to state the name of a beneficiary if you co-own real estate. That’s because your portion of the property will naturally pass down to the co-owner or your partner under the rights of survivorship (ensure to check your state’s legal legislation).
Likewise, you don’t need to jot down the name of the heirs in the Will for retirement accounts and life insurance proceeds since they already have pre-existing beneficiaries.
Select executors and beneficiaries
Quoting the name of a personal representative or the executor is incredibly important for estate planning. An executor is the person that disseminates the assets, settles debts, gives payment for the remaining bills, and manages the entire probate process. Additionally, the executor stated in the Will stays in direct contact with the beneficiaries for the successful and proper transfer of the assets to ensure that your final wishes remain protected.
Given this, it’s imperative to pick a responsible, trustworthy, detail-oriented, and honest person. You can choose your live-in partner, a grown-up child, or a close friend for this responsibility. However, ask the person if they are willing to serve the role before stating their name as executor in the Will. Also, add the name of a successor executor just in case the intended one, for some reason, isn’t there to fulfill the duty after your demise.
With that said, designate beneficiaries in your Will so that your property, assets, and family heirlooms get equally apportioned among your family members according to your last wishes. Failing to identify beneficiaries will result in the state courts deciding the fate of your real estate.
Layout instructions for minor children
If you have dependents, minor children, or kids with special needs, in that case, it’s essential to appoint a guardian. Your chosen guardian can look after the children, tend to their physical care, and manage the funds after you have breathed your last.
While we understand there’s nothing scarier than imagining some other person nurturing and upbringing your kid; however, life is unpredictable. If something happens to you or the other parent, the guardian stated in the Will would still be there for a secure future for your kids.
Remember, guardianship is one aspect of Will creation that can stimulate heated arguments and disagreements. That’s because there might be several people in your circle who will be more than willing to take on the caretaker role and fulfill this responsibility. However, be sure to choose the one you think is perfect for the position and can fully manage their duties.
Print the Will and get it signed
Inaccurately bringing off the Will may result in it being rendered invalid. And while each state’s legal requirements vary, it’s indispensable to sign your Will (in some cases, get it notarized too). So, even if you have crafted the Will through online services, you still need to print out the document, put your signature, and get it signed by witnesses (someone above 18).
However, remember that the witnesses you choose for your Will shouldn’t be the beneficiaries. This way, if anything goes south and, for any reason, Will’s validity gets contested in court, the witnesses can testify.
Properly signing your Will and getting it signed by the witnesses are the concluding stages of the Will to ensure that the court renders the document executable and legally sound. Also, once done, secure this crucial estate planning document in a safe place and ensure to inform the executor about it.
Crafting a Will is undoubtedly an indispensable component of estate planning. So, ensure you conduct thorough research before attempting to write a Will. A DIY Will can be legal if you adhere to the state’s legal requirements.
For instance, some state-specific regulations may necessitate you to sign the Will, get the witnesses’ signatures, and get it notarized. Likewise, it’s imperative to use simple languages, such as enunciating you are of sound mind and energy.
Also, not to blow it out of proportion, drafting a Will is a golden opportunity to make an indelible mark. Yet, people, more often than not, put off the task of creating a Will or feel reluctant. And even if they do, they write it hastily without giving this crucial legal document much thought and attention. Therefore, be conscious and contemplative and draft your Will.