How To Make A Will: What You Need To Know
Making a will is a huge responsibility and one of the most important things that you will do in your life. It can be difficult to think forward to when you will die, but it also ensures that your estate is handled smoothly.
Trying to figure out how to make a will can be a complex and stressful experience. There are many different things to consider. The legal aspects of making a will can be fraught with technicalities and if this is not done right it can make your will easy to contest in court and it can either bring your family together or break it apart.
What Is A Will?
The purpose of a will is to give the court (and the world) information about your estate. The object of a will is to tell the court who you want to administer your estate and to whom and where you want the estate to be distributed to. Without a will, the courts will decide how to divide up your assets after your death. There is a truism that applies to wills: "If you don’t have a will the state will have one for you".
Having your estate settled in court can be a very lengthy, costly and sometimes messy affair and your family can come out of it the looser. For this reason it is always advisable to make a will… even if you think that you don’t need one.
Sometimes people erroneously believe that they don’t have any assets so why bother with a will, but what if you have small children? Have you considered who will be their guardian should both you and your spouse pass on at the same time? These are things every person should consider before making a will.
Everyone’s situation is different. We all have different assets as well as different familial circumstances; you can be rich or poor, own a house and a car or own a farm, you can be married with three children or single or divorced. Situations vary and therefore making a will will vary too.
This article should not be taken as legal advice for any person or issue. There are many different aspects of your personal situation that will affect your will and it is therefore prudent to seek the best legal advice. Choosing an estate attorney is an important decision and should be taken seriously.
How To Make A Will
If you are ready to make a will, the following points will help guide you in the process.
Get the best legal advice that you can get or can afford. The reason for this is that estate laws differ from state to state and country to country. These laws are also constantly changing and everyone’s personal situation is unique. Unless you are up to date with these laws, it can be costly to your estate and to your dependants.
Wills mean probate, which is the official proving of a will as authentic or valid in a Probate Court. Good lawyers can sometimes tell you how to avoid probate as this is, in many cases, an aggravation and expense that you do not need.
How To Divide Up Your Estate
Your kids get along fine when you’re around but when your estate is read all that niceness can go out the proverbial window. Before you know it they can start fighting over who is going to get your favourite chair, your wedding ring or the painting at the end of the hall, and that’s not even taking money into account yet.
It is a natural aspect of the grieving process for everyone to want something to remember you by and the disagreements will start when everyone wants the same things.
It is therefore important to divide everything up beforehand in your will and to be very specific. Discuss this with your beneficiaries and find out what everyone wants and stipulate this in your will. This will go a long way to prevent any bickering the day after your funeral.
Remember to be as specific as possible. If you are going to leave a million dollars to your kids, how should it be divided? Percentages are helpful and so are semantics, grammar and phrasing. A good lawyer will help you with this.
With that being said, make sure that your will is updated regularly especially after major changes in your life; both personal and financial.
Who Should You Appoint As Executor?
Choosing an executor for your estate requires a lot of thought. For example, if you appoint your eldest child as the executor, will the other kids be upset as they (the appointed executor) will receive the executor’s fees?
An executor can be anyone, from your spouse to one of your children to your great uncle Charlie. Many times it’s better to get someone outside your immediate family as your loss can take its toll on your family and having the added pressure of being executor can make their grieving worse.
That being said; choose an executor that will make good financial decisions. If you get an attorney, get one who practices in wills and trusts.
Revise your will every 3 to 5 years as well as when there are births, deaths, marriages, divorces, remarriages, or sales and acquisitions of assets, etc.
You should consult your attorney if you intend moving to another state as estate laws can vary from state to state.
Make your funeral arrangements on a separate document as your will will not be read until after your funeral.
A will only governs the assets that are in your name only and you should therefore make sure that your assets are titled to be included in your will.
Writing Your Own Will
There are circumstances where you either cannot get your will done by a law firm, or for whatever reason prefer not to. If you have decided that this is the case then there are specific formats, language and procedures that must be followed. Do your research well and be aware that there many risks attached to this course of action.
If you choose to make your own will you can find a step-by-step guide in the article:
- How To Make Your Will
If you decide to write your own will, it is vital that you know what you are doing. In this article you will find a step by step guide, with examples, on how to make your will.
You can also find good advice in the following books:
Making a will can be a simple and life-enhancing experience if you consider the above information. The conclusion of your estate is something that can either tear your family apart or bring them even closer and You can go a long way to make it the latter. How to make a will is something everyone should know how to do and I hope that this article has given you a fair idea on how to get started.
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