Have you thought about your Will? Truthfully, writing a Will is not on anyone’s priority list. After all, no one likes thinking about their death. In reality, creating a Will is one of the most crucial and essential things you have to do for your family. It might look daunting and time-consuming, but you don’t have to delve into the complications. All you have to do is thoroughly understand what a Will is and how you wish to distribute your assets.
Simply put, a Will is a piece of legal document. It outlines how your affairs will get handled after your demise. From inheritance, guardian to the executor, you have to mention everything in the Will. In addition, there are a few formal requirements by the state that you should fulfill while creating a Will. Your Will must be handwritten, and the testator must sign and date the Will in front of witnesses. Also, witnesses cannot be one of the beneficiaries in the Will.
If it sounds technical and complex to you, have a look below. Here is our beginner’s guide to writing a Will step-by-step.
Table of Contents
1. Designate an Executor
First and foremost, you have to title the document ‘Last Will and Testament.’ It will include your legal name and permanent address. Before you create a Will, you have to write a declaration paragraph. Here, you will state your legal age and sound mind to ensure you are not putting the Will under duress. After laying out the groundwork, you have to designate an executor.
The executor will act as your representative, managing and distributing your estate assets. Most people choose their family member or friend as an executor, but that’s not advisable. An executor must be a financial advisor or a lawyer to ensure they have the know-how of legal practices.
2. Choose a Guardian
Do you have any dependents? If so, you have to choose a guardian to care for your children if you are the last surviving parent. If you forget to mention this, the court will have to appoint someone. Hence, choose someone who can take the responsibility of raising your children until they turn 18. It should be someone close to you and your children. However, you have to discuss this with your kids and the potential guardian before finalizing it. After all, a potential guardian’s consent is essential.
Moreover, you can also name an alternate guardian if something happens to your first choice. In most cases, the guardian backs out or isn’t fit to take responsibility. Having an alternate available will ensure your children are in safe hands.
3. List & Designate Your Assets
Depending on how many assets you own, create a comprehensive list. For this purpose, you can break them down into two categories – physical property and financial assets.
The physical property will include your home, vehicles, land, family heirlooms, etc. Similarly, the financial assets will involve your bank deposits, investments, shares, and retirement savings.
After this, create a list mentioning who will inherit what. Instead of writing, my wife will inherit the cars; you have to be specific. You must mention your wife’s name and write the vehicle’s title, model, and color. Leaving out details can lead to discrepancies and legal issues later. Besides this, if you wish to disinherit a family member, name the person in your Will. Also, give the reasons behind your decision and get the final draft approved by an attorney to leave no room for errors.
4. Write Your Residuary Clause
Most people leave this section blank, but it serves a purpose.
A residuary clause covers anything not left to a specific beneficiary. It can also include everything not described or something that you forgot to mention in the assets section of the Will. Leave these remainders to a beneficiary or your executor if you can’t recall. Nonetheless, don’t overlook the importance of this clause, as it can come in handy when you remember things later.
In addition, name every beneficiary for the asset. For instance, if you are giving your countryside property to a charitable organization, mention the legal name and name of the owner.
5. Sign the Will Properly
Despite mentioning everything correctly, the Will can be deemed invalid if not executed perfectly. Therefore, ensure to sign the Will correctly in front of all the witnesses. Likewise, the two witnesses should also sign the Will in their right state of mind for the Will to be valid. Remember, the witnesses can’t be anyone inheriting anything in the Will. Also, they have to be at least 18 years of age.
Ideally, the witnesses are the people who will be around when you are not. Thus, if something goes wrong and your Will gets contested in court, the judge will call the witnesses to testify. Lastly, check with your local court to determine the number of witnesses needed to sign the Will.
Truthfully, no one thinks about their demise. After all, everyone wants to live forever, but that’s impossible. All you can do is secure your children’s financial future after your death, and for that, you have to prepare a Will. Include all your assets and name the beneficiaries to leave no room for errors. Besides this, choose a guardian if you have dependents to leave your family in safe hands. Having a Will ready will give peace of mind, ensuring you have managed everything.
Also read: What You Should Know About Fund Management