Even though writing a last will and testament can be difficult, it is essential to prepare this document well ahead of time. This way, you will have your affairs in order and make your passing easier for your loved ones. The last thing you want is to create strife and tension among your family members as they try to figure out how to distribute your assets after your death. Even if you are a millennial, estate planning is crucial.
By writing a will, you can leave behind a record instructing how you want your belongings and assets distributed among your friends, family and others in your life. However, although assets distribution is important to plan, there are many more factors to consider when you are creating a will. For example, if you have children who are minors, you will need to specify who will take care of their inheritances until they are of age. Learn how to write a will and what kind of factors you need to think about before you start.
How to Write a Will
Before you get started, you will need to learn how to write a will either by doing it yourself or by hiring a professional who has experience crafting this type of document. While it is possible to write your will without any assistance, a do-it-yourself approach to final wills can quickly lead to issues, especially if there are many factors to consider in your estate. The consequences of a vague or error-filled will can be financially detrimental for your heirs due to expensive legal fees and hefty taxes they may need to pay when they are trying to sort things out.
The safest option would be using a last will and testament form available through a reputable software program or contacting a professional. However, it is possible to write a final will properly on your own. If you decide to write your will by yourself, try to use a last will and testament sample as a reference to ensure that you are being specific and thorough.
Appointing a Legal Guardian for Your Minor Children
If you are writing a will and testament as the parent of a minor, it is essential to appoint a guardian in the event of your death. Typically, when one parent dies, the other parent will receive custody of minor children. However, if there is a situation where one parent is unable or unfit for custody or both parents pass away, you will need to choose and name a guardian in your final will.
In those circumstances, the court will decide who becomes the guardian of your minor children based on who you named in your last will and testament. If you do not state your wishes in writing, the state may decide who becomes the guardian based on other factors. In order to prevent the state from choosing your child or children’s guardian after you pass away, you should:
- Name one or two choices for a guardian.
- Explain why you believe these adults will be able to provide your child/children with stable, prolonged care.
- State the relationship between the selected adults and your child.
Note: Before you name potential guardians to your legal will, make sure you discuss your decision with them.
Choosing Beneficiaries for Your Property and Assets
When you are divvying up your assets in your will and testament, you will need to choose beneficiaries to receive your belongings. Generally, you will want to choose between common beneficiaries like your spouse, your children, extended family, close friends or your favorite charities. You may even select to create trust funds for specific beneficiaries.
You should be quite specific when you are writing a will so that there is no confusion after you pass away. For example, if you have remarried, you may want your children to receive your assets from your previous marriage instead of them going to your new spouse. If you have any special instructions for your beneficiaries, be sure to write down your wishes clearly.
Choosing a Representative to Execute Your Will
After you pass away, you will need someone to execute the wishes you stated in your last will and testament. This personal representative should be someone you trust and can rely on to carry out your requests after you pass away. While you may be considering appointing a family member as the executor of your will, you should be wary of adding to your family’s stress during the mourning period.
Additionally, the personal representative of your legal will and testament will need to handle the complex task of administering and distributing the estate. They will need to perform administrative tasks like notifying various government agencies about your death, locating all of the beneficiaries named in your will and more. You will want to ensure that the executor of your will is organized and reliable.
General Checklist for Your Will Executor
One of the best ways to ensure that your will and testament is followed accurately is to organize your records for your executor. The following are some general records and information you will want to share with your personal representative:
- Locations of any important documents such as warranties, passwords, emails, usernames and more
- Inventory of your personal property, including descriptions and the names of beneficiaries
- Directions for how you would like your property to be maintained
Final Considerations Before Writing Your Will
Before you are able to write your will and testament, you must first be of “sound mind.” This means that you must know what a will is, who your beneficiaries are, what assets you are going to give away and how they will be distributed to your beneficiaries.
Furthermore, certain assets do not have to be listed in your last will and testament. For example, if you have set up annuities, life insurance or retirement policies, these assets will already have appointed beneficiaries. Therefore, you will not need to include them again in your last will.
Finally, be sure to update your legal will after major life events such as marriages, divorces or births. Typically, you will want to update the document if there are any significant changes to your personal belongings that will need to be distributed after your death. Be sure to keep your will updated to avoid any confusion later.