People often put off writing their will because they don’t want to think about death. But the truth is, if you don’t write your will, you’re actually putting your loved ones through a lot of pain and difficulty after you die. So it’s important to do it sooner rather than later. Here are some tips on how to write your will.
Why Should You Write It
The reason is very simple – when you’re gone, if you haven’t written a will, then the state or country where you live will decide who inherits your stuff. And that means your loved ones end up not getting everything that would have normally gone to them.
Also, if you have a will, then no one can challenge it. This means that they can’t come back in the future with a claim against your estate after the fact. This is especially important when it comes to wills and estate planning because the estate is the sum of all your assets, from land to the bank account you use every day. So, as a crucial legal document that ensures that your wishes are respected after you’re gone and that your estate goes to those whom you wish to receive it rather than going into state coffers, a will is a must for anyone with assets to leave behind.
To begin with, you need to realize that whatever document you create cannot be a photocopied form from a website, a book, or a lawyer’s office. The reason is very simple: wills can vary greatly depending on your country, state, and the small details of your life. In the US, for example, different states have specific rules about how a will is to be structured.
To make things even more complicated, you also need to name an executor for your estate, the person who will be responsible for administering everything after your death.
On the other hand, if you happen to own property in another country, then you may need to handle things very differently. It might be a good idea to consult with a lawyer who is well versed in the laws of your country and he or she will help guide you through all the potential problems that could crop up during the transfer of property and other complexities that arise from leaving assets behind.
What Should You Know Beforehand
First, you need to know if you live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state. This has to do with who owns what after the marriage ends (through divorce or death), for example. Community property states see everything as equally owned by both parties. Inequitable distribution states, the property is divided as the court decides it should be.
In addition to community property and equitable distribution laws, you also need to know who your beneficiaries are supposed to be as well as any wishes for your funeral or other details relevant to what happens after you die. You might want to write down how you would like your estate to be divided up. And, you might want to remember if any other people should receive things from your estate, for example, a special-needs child or former spouse whom you’ve been helping out financially.
The process is fairly straightforward. All that is required of you is to get the information together. Prepare pages for your will as you go, and make sure to keep them separate from those pages with other information. To make things easier, there are many software programs available that will help you create a digital version of the document. Just make sure that it is legally binding in the jurisdiction where you live and then store several copies of it and any supporting references and documents in a secure location.
The next step is hiring an attorney to draft the will. Find one who is licensed in your state and can help you with any questions and concerns about how it should be written and executed.
The Importance of Witnesses
A will must always be signed in front of witnesses. These are people who can swear that you were in sound mind when you made it and that they saw you sign the document. If there are no witnesses, then the will is not valid.
Why is that? You might think that it’s just some outdated tradition. But there is a very good reason behind it. Because wills can cause family members to fight over what they feel is their rightful share, there may be a temptation to claim the person was not in sound mind when writing the will or that he or she did not know what they were doing when signing the will in front of witnesses.
If there are no witnesses, then it becomes that person’s word against the other family member or heirs, and their word may not be trusted by the court. It is just simpler all around to have your will witnessed correctly so that there can be no question about its validity. If you do not live in a community property state, then this is true even if you are married.
Making It Official
There are a few things you need to know. First, you have to file your will with the court clerk in the county where your primary residence is located so that it is on record and available for anyone to look at. If you do not, there could be problems if someone contests it later when something happens.
Second, when making out a will, you should make sure to use the official name of your estate. You can put in abbreviated or slang terms but they must be spelled out correctly if anyone contests it later on.
Finally, when changing an existing will or creating a new one, keep track of any changes. Make sure that everyone who needs to know has a copy of the most recent version.
Making a will is an important task that should not be taken lightly. There are many things to consider when writing one, from the division of assets in community property states to naming beneficiaries and other important details. The process can be simple, but it’s best to have an attorney help you draft it correctly so there are no questions about its validity later on. Having a will filed with the court clerk is also a good idea, and when updating or making out a new will, it is important to keep track of all changes.