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10 Steps to creating a Will

Adam Taub
10 Steps to creating a Will

It is commonplace to put off writing the Last Will & Testament because it requires you to acknowledge mortality and think about what happens to your loved ones when you won’t be around. Death is inevitable, and creating a Will should only be considered an important aspect of estate planning. The task may seem tough and sentimental, but it promises the happiness and wellbeing of your family. There is no right time to draft a Will, but the sooner you get to it, the better.

The following steps shall help you create a comprehensive Will that is legally enforceable:

1. Consult an Estate Planning Attorney

You have to comply by specific estate planning rules and standards while creating the Will; regulations may vary by state, so avoid the DIY approach. It is recommended to consult a local expert, such as Estate Planning Attorney in Brevard, NC, to attain proper guidance. The attorney will provide you with valid documentation and eliminate potential errors. You can also learn about more advanced estate planning options that can help save money on taxes, avoid probate, plan for retirement/incapacitation, and so on.

2. Choose your intended Beneficiaries

The contents of a verified Last Will override the principles of intestacy. This means you have the freedom to choose who gets a share in your estate after your demise. There is no compulsion to transfer all your belongings to immediate family or relatives. For example, you can leave some valuables to a dear friend or donate most of your wealth to charity.

3. Appoint an Executor of Will

The next step is to find someone capable to carry out the stipulations of your Last Will. The executor of Will is a person who looks after various matters of the estate and may be required to participate in the probate process upon your death. They ensure that your last wishes are honored and your assets are transferred to the rightful heirs. Therefore, appoint an individual you can trust unreservedly; they can be from immediate family or a professional outsider.

4. Make a list of your Assets

Your assets comprise all your belongings, regardless of their face value or economic worth. Some items you own may have immense emotional value, so they would be considered priceless in any case. It is also important to note that certain types of assets cannot be included in a Will or transferred through it. Your lawyer can guide you regarding POD (payable on death designations) for savings accounts, IRA funds, insurance policies, etc.

5. Be clear about division and distribution of property

It is essential to be specific about who gets what and/or how they get it. It is recommended give details or instructions where applicable, as well as refrain from vague or controversial statements. Transparency is the key to avoid confusion and discourage conflict between beneficiaries.

6. Designate a guardian for minors

If you currently have children who are under 18, you should be concerned about their upbringing in the event of your death. If you are a single parent, this becomes all the more necessary. It may not be in your best interests to rely on intestacy to choose a caretaker for your minor children. If you know someone capable to take your place in the event of tragedy, designate them as a guardian after acquiring their consent. You do not want to name somebody who would not be willing to shoulder the responsibility when the time comes.

7. Add signatures as required per law

Most states require an individual to finalize the Will in the presence of two credible witnesses; the witnesses are required to add their signatures for verification. A missing signature or a suspicious one may render the Will invalid and create problems.

8. Include a Letter

It is hard to please everyone, and you may not feel obliged to do so. Some people may end up offended or displeased by the contents of your Will, thus they might retaliate. One or more individuals may even contest the Will and call it fake. Therefore, it is wise to include a letter that explains your decisions to those it may concern. For instance, if you choose disinherit a legal heir, you can state your reason to eradicate any misunderstandings and close the case. The letter can also be used to convey a final heartfelt message to your loved ones.

9. Find a safe place for storage

Your Last Will and Testament should be placed someplace that is not accessible to anyone but those you trust with your life. It is wise to provide a copy to your lawyer and executor of Will for reference. The original copy should be locked up in a secure location, which is preferably fireproof. If a Will gets damaged or lost, your estate may become subject to intestacy. You should be able to store and execute your Will electronically, as long as you meet the entailed legal requirements.

10.Review and update the document on a regular basis

The Will you create right now probably reflects your current circumstances. Later in life, you may get married, have more children, lose a family member, establish your own business, gain a hefty inheritance, or simply possess very different estate planning goals. Therefore, do not forget to update or adjust your Will accordingly. 

Adam Taub
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