Writing a will is probably not going to be anybody’s to-do list anytime soon. But your family and loved ones will thank you for writing a will once you are no longer in this world. In some cases creating wills online or in writing might even keep them from fighting over who gets what and how much.
Understanding the Contents of a Valid Will
A will is a document that is legally valid in a court of law. It determines how an individual’s affairs are handled after they are no longer in this world. A proper will should designate inheritors for your property or estate. A will should also designate guardians for your offspring if you have minor children.
The person writing a will or testament needs to be at least 18 years old with a healthy mental capacity. The contents must be in clear writing. The person writing the will must validate the will with a signature in the presence of witnesses. The witnesses also need to be at least 18 years old.
1. Writing the Will
The title of the document needs to be “Last Will and Testament” and it should include your full legal name and address. The declaration section needs to affirm that you are of legal age possessing a sound mind. It should also revoke any previous wills or codicils and that you are not making this testament under any legal pressure or duress.
2. Assigning an Executor
The executor is your legal representative in charge of managing and distributing your property and possessions. You can choose friends, family, or coworkers to be your executor but this is not always a good idea. Consider assigning an attorney as your executor to prevent any problems or issues related to conflict of interest.
3. Designate a Guardian
If you have minor children it is important to name a guardian for them even if you have a spouse. If you do not appoint a guardian, the court will nominate one for you. Try to select someone willing to take on the responsibility of caring for your children until they turn 18, consider alternatives.
4. List the Beneficiaries
Beneficiaries inherit your assets after you die. Always include full names and contact information to make it easier to identify beneficiaries. You can choose anyone to be your beneficiary other than pets.
5. List the Assets
The inventory of assets should declare who gets what. You cannot disinherit some family members (for example spouse) without a good reason. The beneficiaries of your life insurance will remain unchanged by your will.
6. Signature of Witnesses
A witness cannot simultaneously be a beneficiary. The number of witnesses required depends on local laws. In some cases, the person writing the will and the witnesses might need to sign a “self-proving” affidavit. The affidavit bears proof of the validity of the will.
It also certifies that the contents are a sworn statement made by the person writing the will. You must sign and date the will in front of the witnesses and the witnesses will do the same after you.
7. Keep Your Will in a Safe Place
Inform your executor where you keep your will and how to access it. Make sure it is in a safe place especially in the event of a calamity or disaster.