Death is inevitable. We shall all die; sooner or later. And when we do, we’ll leave everything else behind – our assets, children, spouses, investments… name them. You’ll not be in control of your property anymore when you’re gone. Fortunately, estate planning – in this case writing your Will – is the best way you can plan for it. In the Will, you’ll declare who will manage your estate and who gets what of your property. Writing your own Will can be a challenge when you don’t know what you need and where to start. Well, this should not be your worry anymore. This guide has everything you’ll need to successfully write your own Will. Please read on.
1. Choosing the Executor for Your Will
After writing the Will, you’ll need to choose an executor – a person who will ensure your wishes are fulfilled accordingly. You’ll most likely choose an attorney or your bank where you may spend between 2-4% of your estate’s assets. Compensation will also be necessary even if you’ll designate a friend or family member to oversee the distribution. This is because the process of closing an estate can be quite involving and time-consuming. Which calls for compensation of your executor either hourly or by percentage of your assets. You may also choose an alternate executor just in case your first choice will, for some reason, be unavailable.
2. Selecting Your Beneficiaries
This is yet another important step when writing your Will. Primary beneficiaries are normally the children, life partner, and the spouse. But there’s no restriction about the same, just be sure to provide clear identities of the people you’ll include avoiding any ambiguities. You need to understand the circumstances surrounding the selection of beneficiaries in your state to enable you to make informed and legal decisions about the same. You should also consider the general rules of the IRA to help you make informed decisions.
3. Be Specific About Who Gets What
Not everyone knows what you want. And that’s assumption should be your greatest enemy when writing your Will. You may assume that if you name your spouse to be your beneficiary, he/she will name your children and anyone you wanted to inherit part of your wealth. On the contrary, your beneficiary will have a legal right to name whoever they want. Therefore, be specific about who will take over your investments, assets, and other possessions.
4. Be Realistic About Who Gets What
No matter how fair you may want to be when distributing your assets, it may still be difficult. Especially when you have two or more children and single assets like cars and jewelry. You cannot divide your car or home equally among your four children. What then should you do? Well, you can have your estate to sell such assets or, most importantly, talk to your heirs about different assets at hand. Let them tell you what they want and see how you can fulfill each of their requests peacefully. You may use your retirement fund to solve some of the most pressing issues or ask them for their suggestions. You don’t want your children to blame you for unfair distribution. Proper wealth management is essential to safeguarding your family’s future. For instance, you can get advice from Commerce Trust Company for more information.
5. Naming of a Guardian
If you’re having minor or dependent children, it’s essential that you find them a guardian and include in your Will. A guardian is also necessary if you’re having children who still require guardianship with no other biological parent to look after them. Your children will be under the care of the guardian until they reach the age of majority. This can be a weighty commitment for anyone as they may have to become guardians for a significantly long period of time. Therefore, ensure to consult the person prior to naming them to know if they’ll be okay with the responsibility. You may decide to name more than one person according to your preference just in case the one top in the list may be unavailable. The court will appoint the guardian if you’ll not choose one.
6.Joint Will or Separate Wills?
One can choose between having a joint Will or separate Wills with their spouse. However, joint Wills are very rare and often cause more troubles among the beneficiaries. In fact, some states do not approve of joint Wills. Probably because not every property in the family is jointly held. Also, there’s a very minimum probability that you and your spouse will die at the same time. For these and other reasons, separate Wills are more acceptable and cause fewer troubles. Separate Wills are also essential when there are kids from previous relationships and ex-spouses as well. These situations will require that you become very clear on who gets what.
7.Signing of the Will
After creating the Will, it’s mandatory that you sign it. Without the sign, your Will will be just but an invalid document. You’ll need to check with your state to find out if your signature must be notarized – requires the presence of a public notary when signing and the Will is to be stamped with the notary’s seal.
8.Witnesses to the Will
Witnesses are very vital when writing your Will. They too need to sign the document for it to be valid. Depending on your state, you’ll need to provide at least two or three witnesses to sign your Will. Any beneficiary in your Will shall not qualify to be one of the witnesses. Any other person qualifies to be a witness. You should be keen enough not to violate any state law related to witnesses to the Will as you’ll be risking invalidating your entire Will.
9.Updating the Will
In some instances, your Will will need to be updated. Especially when there’s a significant change happening in the family. Maybe you’ve added new assets since you created the Will. You may decide to update your Will also when your children have become adults since they’ll not be needing guardians anymore. Other important events which may require updating your Will include marriage, childbirth, divorce, or when a beneficiary or executor has died. The update will be important since the most current Will at the time of your death is the one which will be used.
Writing your own Will should never be a task to worry about, especially when you know the most essential details. This piece has most of the information you need to know before writing your Will. Just remember to comply with all the laws of your state and follow this guide to the latter. Any mistake may have serious consequences and it will be too late to make amendments since you’ll be long gone. Your finance and wealth management are very important both now and for your family’s future. You can consult a wealth management professional to help you make informed decisions about the same. Good luck!