If you are looking to create a last will, you might be putting it off. After all, people are living longer nowadays. Plus, you are feeling better and healthy, so you naturally assume you’ve got a long way to go before death, right? Well, that doesn’t mean that preparing a will should be taken any less seriously. You need to have an estate plan, and the sooner you have it, the better.
A will is one of the cornerstones of that plan, and you can look at FormsPal’s Guide to Last Wills. Will determine how your property and assets are disbursed after your death, including both your real property (such as buildings or land) and the things you own (jewelry, clothing, vehicles, and stocks).
Most of the time your property is divided between your family, including your spouse and children. Other times, certain portions of it can be donated to charity as the beneficiaries. Last will need to be prepared while you are healthy, so all your assets can go where you want them to after your death.
There are several different types of last wills, as well as things you need to keep in mind as you are preparing yours. Here are the top tips!
Tips To Follow When You Are Making A Last Will
1. Don’t Write The Will Yourself
While you can write the will yourself, it isn’t the best thing in the world. Writing a will by hand (called a holographic will) has a few drawbacks. For one, handwritten wills aren’t recognized in several states, can be very conflicting if you don’t know what you are doing, and can be easily contested if people try to fight it. It’s also much easier to lose.
Instead, you need to focus on using will templates. These templates are fillable, and they have enough legalese to be effective if disputed. The templates can also take the state’s law into account so that the will won’t be void.
2. Figure Out Your Assets
Your assets might be everything from land and buildings to the furniture and jewelry in your home. Of course, it can be challenging to list every single thing you own, especially if you own a lot. Write down as many assets as you can think of, and then create a residuary estate in your estate plan. The residue estate clause will be used with a residuary beneficiary who will get everything that you didn’t list in your assets.
Speaking of assets, if you live in a community property state, then half of all of your assets will go to your spouse. It doesn’t matter what you put in your will, so you will need to look at your state’s property laws.
3. Pick Different Guardians And Trustees
If you pass away and have young children, you will need to assign them guardians so your children will be cared for. It can seem like a good idea to make your guardians the trustees as well. Trustees have full control over a child’s assets, and giving one person the power to be both a guardian and a trustee can be a bit overwhelming. Instead, go for two different people to make things easier for everyone involved.
By using legacy letters, it can be easily addressed to the person on which a dying person wants to leave. A person can write about their experiences, hopes, and regrets of their past.
Guardians should be younger than you, and you should make sure they have enough resources to support themselves and your family when you pass. Additionally, you need to make sure that they have the proper education and lifestyle to support your young children. Make sure to choose your guardian wisely, and make sure that your children are okay with whoever you end up picking.
If your children don’t need a trustee to see over their asset distribution, then you should at least give them a financial planner. If your child finds some extra money in their bank account and doesn’t know how to handle it, they need a financial planner not to waste the money on bad investments.
4. Look At Life Changes And Review Your Will
Once the will is created, verified, and stored somewhere, you need to meet with your estate lawyer whenever significant life changes happen. These include weddings, births, deaths, job changes, milestones, and job changes. If something impacts you financially, you need to make a change to your will.
Even if nothing happens, you need to talk to your estate lawyer around every five years. This will help you keep your will in line with the state tax laws.
5. Look At Who Your Executor Is
The executor is the person who will handle the estate and the provisions after you die. They are the person who reads the last will and lets everyone know what they got. You need to make sure that your executor is up for the task and responsible enough to handle it.
You should trust the executor with everything related to your estate. If they have a business background and knowledge of property distribution, then that’s even better. Make sure they know what they are doing, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
6. Have Witnesses
Finally, no matter how you create your will, you should sign the document with two witnesses present, who will also have signatures on the will. Your state will also determine how many witnesses you need. Witnesses prove the identity of the person signing the will and confirm certain facts about the will signing process.
All of this is dependent on state laws, including who can be the witnesses to a will and how the act of witnessing works. Make sure to check your state laws before signing the document, and having your signature witnessed.
7. Indicate Any Special Needs
Finally, your last will shouldn’t just be about saying who gets what and dividing all your stuff between family and friends. You should also take this time to write out a goodbye to the people you love and share anything you want to be done with your body. For example, you could request to be cremated and have your ashes spread over a specific area.
You could also be the eccentric older person and leave your entire estate to a pet, which is legal if it complies with state laws! If you don’t particularly like your relatives, this can be an interesting way to get back at them in death. Donating all your belongings to charity is also an option, though.
Always Keep Your Will Up to Date
Finally, the best thing to keep in mind when writing and formatting a will is to keep it up to date, especially if you are writing the will while young. Any significant financial event that can change the circumstances of your will needs to be adapted into the document, along with any births or deaths.
You don’t want to put off changing your will to account for a new family member or the loss of an old one, and then have this oversight cause problem for everyone once the will is read and you pass away.
Make sure to keep your will up to date and keep these other things in mind, and you will have a will that can stand the test of time. That way, when it is time to go, you can feel more at peace knowing that everything will be taken care of properly.