06 Mar How To Make A Will
Understanding how to prepare a will serves as the foundation of the estate planning process. Understanding the basic principles as to the legal impact of a will and the proper steps which go into how to make a will can offer a testator (the maker of the will) peace of mind knowing that the risk of a will being misinterpreted by your heirs or beneficiaries or subject to litigation can be reduced.
Understanding the legal function of a will is the first step in this process. A will is a written document that controls how a person’s property is distributed after they die.
A will is best thought of as setting the ground rules for how your final wishes will be carried out after death. A will can provide a great deal of peace of mind by offering clarity and direction to your heirs.
However, if not properly prepared a will can create more problems than the problems they prevent. Any number of problems can arise in the process of preparing will. The will may be unclear in the directions it provides to heirs. This can result in confusion and unnecessary litigation costs as heirs or other beneficiaries may contest how the estate is being distributed.
Further, the will may not have been properly executed, or modifications to the will may not have been carried out properly. The net result of not understanding how to prepare a will is often confusion and unnecessary costs for the decedent’s estate. Understanding the basics of preparing and executing a will can reduce the risk of confusion and litigation over your estate in the future.
Plan Your Estate, Plan Your Will
An effective will is based on a solid and well thought out estate plan. As such, it is important to consider your current and future assets and the needs of your surviving family and other loved ones. The most efficient way to accomplish this task is to take account of your assets with an eye toward what these assets will look like in the future and how these assets should be distributed.
Draft Your Will
Drafting your will involves committing your estate plan to a formal document. A will can be either typed or handwritten as long as it has been duly witnessed by two qualifying witnesses as will be discussed in the next step.
Writing your will clearly, to express your intent, is crucial to avoiding future problems. This may seem simple enough, however those experienced in how to make wills appreciate the practice of looking at the text of the will from the perspective of the party reading the will. Ask: Is this as clear as possible? If not, make it clearer.
Finalize Your Will
To finalize your will, you must sign it in front of two witnesses. Notarizing the signatures on your will is not a required step for a legally binding will; however, if notarized, an extra layer of protection is offered as a Court can automatically assume the signatures your will are valid.
There is no need to file your will with the Court most people keep it in a safe place where their relatives can find it when needed. Filing the will with the Court has the advantage of making sure an official copy is always available.
There are certain requirements that a will must meet to be deemed valid. A person making a will must be 18 years old and be of sound mind and memory. A legitimate will must be in writing.
In order to be viewed as final and legitimate a will must be signed by the maker and witnessed by two people. It is important to note that people who are beneficiaries under the will cannot serve as witnesses. Therefore, if someone is to receive property in the will, he or she cannot be witnesses.
A will may be revoked or changed at any time before the death of the maker. However, this usually requires a written change with the same witness requirements as the original will. Furthermore, most states do not recognize oral wills thus making it important that all estate matters be committed to writing for future reference.
An attorney experienced in how to prepare a will can assist you in both the estate planning process and how to translate that state plan into a will.
This will ensure that your heirs and beneficiaries are provided with a clear road map to how your estate will be managed. By creating a clear roadmap a considerable amount of stress and uncertainty can be reduced to your loved ones after your death. Further, creating a clear and effective will can help preserve estate assets that could be subjected to litigation and probate expenses.