Wills & Trusts
One must understand the options available to their needs and the needs of their family. One must concern the needs of today as well as preparing for the needs of the future. Will are established to:
Choose loving guardians for your children
Leave your property to family and friends
Get the care you want in a medical emergency
Save thousands in legal fees and avoid complications
Last Will and Testament
Identifies who should receive your property, defines who you want to carry out your wishes and names guardians if you have minor children. All wills must be approved by a court after you pass away.
Revocable Living Trust
Determines who should manage and receive your property after you pass away without the cost and hassle of waiting for court approval of your will.
Describes your preferences for care in a medical emergency and names someone to carry out your health care wishes. This document is sometimes called an advance directive, health care directive, or medical power of attorney.
Home Transfer Deed
Specifies who should receive your home after you pass away without the cost and hassle of waiting for court approval.
Power of Attorney
Names someone you trust to manage your finances if you can no longer make decisions for yourself. A power of attorney is only valid while you are alive.
What Is a Will?
A will is a written document, signed and witnessed, that indicates how your property will be distributed at the time of your death. It is revocable and subject to amendment at any time during your lifetime. It also allows you to appoint a guardian for your minor children.
How to Write a Willby Michelle Fabio, Esq. Freelance Writer
No one likes to think about their own death, but preparing end-of-life documents, such as a last will and testament, can give you great peace of mind now, knowing your wishes will be followed when you're gone.
Still, getting together a last will can seem like a daunting task, and maybe you aren't exactly sure how to write a will, the most basic of estate planning documents you should have.
The good news is that writing a will doesn't have to be complicated or even take a long time. Although, in the past, most people consulted a lawyer to make a will, these days, making wills online has never been easier.
Before we get to the nitty gritty of how to make a will, though, let's talk a bit more about why you should have one and what you should be thinking about as you prepare this all-important document.
Do I Need a Will?
A will is a legal document that details what you want done with your possessions after your death and, to put it simply: Yes, you need a will.
Even if you think you don't have many assets or that your estate will automatically go where you want upon your death through your state's intestacy laws (which kick in when someone dies without a will), making a will can assure that your exact preferences will be followed after your death.
You'll also be doing your loved ones a favor, as they won't have to guess what you might have wanted.
Within your will, you, as the testator, will name an executor to be in charge of distributing your estate according to your instructions. You also may name a guardian for any minor children or other dependents. Without either of these provisions in a will, a judge would be the one to decide who handles your estate and, even more concerning, who cares for your children.
If you have beloved pets, your will also is an excellent place to provide for their care after your death.
A will does not take effect until your death, but, afterwards, it becomes part of the public record as it goes through probate, the court-supervised process of closing out a deceased person's estate.
Five Steps to Write Your Own Will
1. Gather Your Information.
Executor—who you want to be in charge of distributing your estate; the executor should, of course, be someone you trust
Assets—all real property (real estate) and personal property (vehicles, bank accounts, family heirlooms, etc.)
Debts and taxes—any amounts your estate may need to pay out
Beneficiaries—the people you want to receive your assets, including their full names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers
Guardian—the person you choose to take care of your children and their property in the event of the deaths of both parents, as well as an alternative choice should that person be unable to take on the responsibility
Pet care—who you want to take care of your pet, as well as any funds you would like to set aside for your pet's care
2. Write the Will.
At this point, you may be wondering whether you need a lawyer to write a will.
No, you don't, and, in fact, online wills have become increasingly popular in recent years. Online wills are often quick and easy to create and are also legally valid so long as they are executed according to your state's laws.
Beginning with a simple questionnaire that you can fill out in just minutes, you can start to make your own will with the help of an online service such as LegalZoom's Last Will and Testament.
Other options for writing your own will include using will templates generated by will software or fill-in-the-blank forms.
No matter which method you choose, you will be well prepared because you have already considered many of the issues you will need to address while gathering the information during Step 1.
3. Make Sure the Will Is Legal.
Because laws concerning wills vary by state, it is important that you know what your state requires in order to make a will valid. If you use LegalZoom's Last Will and Testament, you can be sure that LegalZoom's team of experienced attorneys has designed all last wills to meet the specific laws and requirements of each U.S. state.
Generally, though, for most states, in order to execute a valid will, you need to be of sound mind and over the age of 18; sign the will; and, often, have witnesses sign it as well. These witnesses should also provide their full names and addresses in case they need to be contacted in the future regarding the will.
4. Copy and Store Your Will.
Once you have your completed, executed will, you should make a copy and store both the original and copy in a safe place such as a fireproof lockbox or filing cabinet. You should also let your loved ones know where the documents are and how to find them after your death in order to make probating the will easier.
5. Keep Your Will Up to Date.
Remember that your will can be changed and updated at any time, so you should plan to revisit it at least yearly to make sure it still reflects your wishes. Any time that there is a change in your family situation—such as a divorce or the birth of a grandchild—is a good time to review your will.
Knowing how to make a will is half the battle, right? Now all you need to do is follow through. So, get to it!
Everyone knows they should have a will, but the vast majority – about 70% of us do not. Writing a will is easy and inexpensive, and once you are done you can rest easy knowing your hard earned money and property will be distributed according to your wishes. As well, if you have children, you can leave instructions on who will be left in charge of them if you pass, leaving that decision out of the courts hands. Making a will is easy, you just need to be at least 18 years of age and must be of sound mind when the will is written. To make a will legal it must:
Expressly state that it is your will
Be computer generated or typewritten
Be signed and dated
Be signed by 2-3 witnesses, these witnesses must be people who don’t stand to inherit anything in the will