Making plans for your eventual death may seem difficult, but doing so will help ensure that your loved ones are taken care of. Writing a will may feel awkward initially, but it may be simpler and easier than you think.
We’ll discuss what a last will and testament entail, offer you resources for writing a will, and address frequently asked questions to assist you in preparing your will.
What Is a Last Will and Testament?
A last will and testament is a legal document that expresses a person’s last desires regarding their property. It offers detailed guidelines on how to handle their belongings. It will state whether the decedent desires to give them to a charity, another person, a group, or both.
Types Of Will
List your assets and the beneficiaries who should get them in a straightforward will. Additionally, if you have any minor children, you can name an executor and a guardian.
Making a straightforward will online is simple when utilizing one of the available templates. Make careful to seek out any legal counsel you deem necessary.
One will that involves two parties, usually couples, is known as a joint will. When one spouse passes away, the other spouse is the beneficiary of the will, as specified in the will. The surviving spouse cannot change the stipulations, which may be a concern if that spouse’s situation changes.
Because of this rigidity, joint wills are less widespread than they once were.
Testamentary Trust Will
This will include a testamentary trust or trusts that go into effect following your passing and the probate procedure (unlike, for example, a living trust which takes effect during your lifetime). It is utilized when individuals with special needs or young children require ongoing, specialized care. After your death, the trust distributes all or a portion of your assets.
In the event of incapacitation, this form of will simply addresses your medical treatment and decision-making. It is a legal instrument that specifies your care and, among other things, when medical support will end.
Why You Need a Will
A will is important to ensure your loved ones are cared for after death.
Other reasons why a will is important are;
- It will allow you to give your stuff and assets to people you want. Most individuals are unaware that the State will divide your possessions in accordance with their plan if you don’t have a will (called intestate succession). Making your intentions known by having a will.
- It will ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after death. One of the most crucial justifications for writing a will is choosing a legal guardian to look after your children until they are 18. If you let the court decide, they might not choose the individual you want to fill that position.
- It will allow you to give to your favorite charity. Making a will allows you to specify the assets you want to contribute to your preferred charity, which is one of its advantages. Perhaps you support human rights, adore animals, or have faith in your church’s mission. Whatever the reason, leaving money in a will is the best way to ensure their work can go on.
- It can prevent problems and delays. To submit it to a special probate court, it is necessary to “probate” a Will. If your will is valid, the State will appoint your will agent to determine your final desires. This procedure moves more rapidly when you have a will, guaranteeing that your beneficiaries—those who inherit from you—receive your belongings immediately.
- It will help you to have an executor (or agent) to represent your wishes. You probably have a lot of practical parts of your life that need closure in today’s society. In addition to managing your bank accounts, credit cards, and any payments or obligations owed to you, you also need to manage any social media accounts you may have. All those things can be handled by an executor, who will also deliver them to the recipients so they can be cherished forever.
What Is Included in a Last Will and Testament?
A last will and testament usually include a few key parts.
An executor: A personal representative responsible for carrying out the instructions in a person’s final will and testament.
Appointed guardians: If you have children or other dependents, you should name a guardian in your final will and testament to take care of them after your death.
Distributing assets: Your will contains detailed instructions on how and where to distribute your assets and personal belongings to your beneficiaries.
Charitable contributions: You can choose whether or not to include donations made in your name to charities in your taxes.
Requirements for a Last Will and Testament
Be of Sound Mind
You must be of legal age and understand your assets and what it means to leave property to beneficiaries after your death to have a legally binding will.
Identify Assets and Beneficiaries
You must specify in a will the assets and property you wish to bequeath and the recipients’ names (known as named beneficiaries).
Designate an Executor
A will should name an executor who will carry out the instructions in accordance with the intentions of the decedent.
A legal guardian can be named in a parent’s will to take care of their minor children in the event of their untimely demise.
Witnesses to Your Signature
A will needs to be signed to be taken seriously. In many countries, a will must also be signed in front of two witnesses who are at least 18 years old and unrelated. For more information, consult the laws in your state.
How to Create a Will
Here’s a quick guide to create a will;
- Consider whether you’ll write your will using an online service or work conventionally with an estate lawyer. Make contact with moving the process along.
- Select the possessions you want to leave in your will.
- List your beneficiaries and the assets that should go to each of them.
- Choose an executor. Make sure to first obtain their permission.
- You should appoint a guardian for your underage children. Again, get their permission in advance.
- Publish your will. Most states require two witnesses to your signature, though some may call for more (check your state’s regulations on this and whether your will needs to be notarized).
- Safely store your will. Consider using a safe deposit box at your neighborhood bank, but make sure the bank is legally permitted to grant access to your executor.
- Review your will regularly and amend it as necessary.
To learn more about the step by step process of making a will, we’ve created a concise guide for you to follow here.
Resources for Writing a Last Will and Testament
LawDepot is a publisher of DIY legal forms. It provides free, simple-to-understand will templates created by lawyers.
LegalZoom is a legal technology business that enables you to create legal papers without employing an attorney. It provides basic will template alternatives with the opportunity to pay more to have questions addressed by the company’s network of attorneys.
DoYourOwnWill.com is a free-will-maker online that provides a simple approach to drafting your will. Although it’s free, the website advises seeking legal help in complicated cases.
Do a last will and testament need to be notarized?
Although it is not required, having a will notarized is a good idea. A will that has been notarized can help prevent disputes in probate court while it is being implemented.
Can I write my own will, and will it be legal?
Yes. It’s legal to write your own will, and given how much it costs to draft a will with a lawyer, a do-it-yourself approach might be a cost-saving choice. But you must draft a will that’s legal in your state and ensure it can stand up to scrutiny.
Who keeps the original copy of a will?
Most estate planning lawyers assume responsibility for holding original wills and other papers for their clients. They act in this way for two causes.
How Much Does a Last Will and Testament Cost?
The price varies depending on the type of estate and how difficult the beneficiary designation process may be. An individual can create a simple will on their own for free. Depending on their extent, writers can charge from tens to hundreds of dollars online. It can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to hire a lawyer.
How long is a will valid?
A will has no time limit associated with it. However, it is suggested that you periodically check your will. Your will should be updated if you get married, acquire a new property, or otherwise experience a change in circumstances.
A last will and testament is a fundamental legal document in an individual’s estate plan. It lays out a person’s final wishes about their assets. It provides specific instructions about how to distribute their possessions.
There are certain things a will cannot accomplish for a person, such as helping a family avoid probate or reducing estate taxes. Nonetheless, this does not overthrow the advantages and importance of settling this matter.
Planning for the future is not only smart but also the only way to control your legacy, protect your family, and gain peace of mind. It is empowering beyond belief when you can feel confident that your final wishes have been explicitly stated and can therefore trust that those wishes will be executed exactly the way you envisioned.
To learn more about other senior financial matters we’ve created a guide that will help you navigate through finances involved in retirement.