No one knows when their time will come, which is why it’s important to have a last will in place. This document ensures that your final wishes are carried out after your death. Without a will, the laws of the state of your residence at the time of death will determine what happens with your estate.
Although you might not think that writing a will is important at this point, you should be aware that if it’s not done correctly, your wishes could end up going unfulfilled. The good news is that the process isn’t as confusing as some people make it out to be. Writing a will doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
The Process of Writing a Will
Writing a will may seem daunting, but plenty of tools are available to help you get started quickly. You can buy an online template, for example, or find templates in stores that sell office supplies. If you’re more comfortable with pen and paper, there are plenty of resources available online to help you write a will yourself.
But if you prefer having someone guide you through the process, you can set up a formal meeting with an estate planning attorney to discuss your final wishes. The process of writing a will is relatively simple:
- Decide who you want to inherit your estate.
- List the specific items or assets you want each person to inherit.
- List any debts you still owe.
- Decide how your estate should be managed until it is distributed.
- Sign and date the document.
- Keep a copy in a safe place while your make copies to distribute to the people named in your will. You need to give a copy to your executor, any co-executors, your spouse or partner, children older than 18 years old, and any other heirs who live in another state.
- After your death, the executor carries out your wishes.
What Should Be Included in Your Will
The specifics of what you should be including in your will vary depending on your situation. Here are some of the most common elements to include:
- An introduction that explains why you’re writing the will
- The names and contact information for any executors, trustees, and guardians you want to appoint in the event of your death
- A list of items or assets you own, including real estate
- The value of any assets
- A list of debts you owe and their approximate values
- Information about who gets custody of your children
- Specific requests for funeral arrangements
Tips for Getting Everything in Order
It can be painful to make plans for after your untimely demise, but it’s necessary if you want to ensure your final wishes are carried out. Here are a few tips to help make the process easier:
- If you have young children, be sure to name a guardian in the event of both parents’ deaths. The guardian should be someone who is trusted enough to make decisions about your kids’ future, but the process of appointing guardians can be complicated. You may want to consult with your lawyer in this case.
- When you begin writing your will, it’s also a good idea to write up a list of what you own and how much it is worth. This information can help ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
- Once you have all of this information in place, you should sign and date the document so that it’s legally binding. A lawyer can help explain any problems with what you’ve written, but remember that revising your will after signing is dangerous. You may accidentally change an important detail or create conflict among the people you’ve named as beneficiaries.
- It’s also important to make copies of your will and distribute them to the appropriate people. This can help ensure that there is no confusion about your final wishes after your death.
- The executor of your will is responsible for ensuring that everything goes according to plan, so be sure to choose someone you trust. Do not appoint a minor as an executor. Choose a person who is old enough to understand the job and who you believe will carry out your wishes responsibly.
Writing a will can be difficult, but with the right information and guidance, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The process is simple — make sure you include all of your important details for your last wishes to come true according to what’s most important to you.
Whether you want an attorney involved, remember that there are plenty of resources available online, as well as professionals who can help guide you through the process. This way, you can be sure that everything is in order and your loved ones won’t have to worry about any surprises after your death.