It’s difficult to write a will—you’re so focused and clinically on your own death and valuables after you’re gone. However, once it’s done, a will is one of the most essential papers you’ll ever write. In your absence, Wills guarantee that your final instructions are followed. How do you create a will? While the popular and costly choice is to visit an attorney, there are choices available. Here’s everything you need to know about writing your own will.
Four Options in Writing a Will
Using an Online Paid Service
There is no shortage of online will service businesses on the market, similar to those that provide LLC or registered agent services. Online paid services are often advertised as Estate or Trust Planning. Companies like these may be a great option for individuals seeking to create powers of attorney, trusts, or other estate planning documents since they commonly offer a variety of additional services.
Only use a company like this if its work has been well-reviewed by professional attorneys to ensure that the papers are correct. Before making a decision, read client evaluations. Flat fees may be charged, as well as monthly subscriptions and full usage of online templates for a fee. Outside legal assistance, document mailing, and simple future modifications are just a few of the extras that might vary considerably between firms. In many cases, you will be required to download additional software in order to create your will.
Use a Paid Service That Accepts In-Person Appointments (Lawyer or Attorney)
The vast majority of people hire a lawyer or an attorney to write their will, and for good reason: having a professional closely involved in your procedure may provide a degree of comfort you won’t find elsewhere. In-person services are more expensive and time-consuming than other alternatives. Locating a competent expert might be tough, depending on where you reside. However, if you have a large inheritance, issues such as property in multiple states, or concerns about Medicaid planning or trusts, it is strongly advised that you contact an attorney.
Purchasing a DIY Template or Kit
A DIY Will Kit may be found on the internet and in some brick-and-mortar stores. These kits include all of the instructions, paperwork, and examples you’ll need to write and validate your own will. No matter where you reside, you can make things easier with kits that are appropriate for your country.
Kits are more affordable than using an internet-based paid service, but they generally just include standard wills (e.g., basic wills), so if you know your estate planning is complicated or you have a lot of assets, you should consider a paid service to get direct assistance.
Write Your Own
Writing a will may seem difficult, but it is actually quite simple if you have a straightforward estate. Before attempting to create a will, you should be fluent in legal terminology. If you use a DIY kit or template, much of this work has already been completed for you. If you opt to write it entirely yourself, brush up on any legal requirements for your state and nation before doing anything else. Each jurisdiction may have different legislation covering wills and estates, and your document is likely to comply with these requirements before it is accepted as valid.
Handwritten wills, also known as “holographic wills,” are a type of handwritten document that has the appearance of being genuine. Handwritten will holograms are not accepted in every state and may be readily invalidated by the court. As a result, we do not advise writing your own will in longhand.
How to Write Your Own Will
It is feasible to create your own will, provided that you take the appropriate measures. The following are some of the details you’ll want to include in your will.
(If you want to produce a simple will, be sure to check out the following list. This checklist is only for people who have a basic estate and just wish to create a straightforward will. If you have a complicated or large inheritance with many moving pieces, this information may not be relevant to you. Consider hiring an estate lawyer instead if these benefits are)
- Write a title. It’s easy to overlook such a basic element, but it must be obvious to anyone who reads your last will that it is your final will. Make sure you include your whole legal name somewhere in the first few lines of your will. If you’ve previously prepared a will, be sure to include a note that your most current document invalidates any previous ones. Any additional names you’ve used should be included.
- Name the executor of your will. This is the individual who ensures that your assets are dispersed and settled according to your will. Choose someone you can trust. To be on the safe side, you may want to pick a backup executor as well.
- Name a guardian for any minors. If you have minors or are the guardian of any children, name a guardian. After your death, this individual will take complete legal and physical care of your kids. If the parent can be deemed competent, guardianship usually passes to any surviving parent automatically.
- Organize and inventory assets. Assets are anything you own that is yours, such as cash and property. Your assets include personal items, pets, real estate, and money. Make sure to properly identify each asset so that the executor can accurately transfer it to its designated beneficiary when transferring the asset to its appropriate recipient. Make sure you understand the rules for each state. Check with your state to see which assets are not permitted. For example, trust or investment accounts are usually not considered part of your basic assets and are instead handed over to the people you designated as beneficiaries.
- Name the beneficiaries. Name a beneficiary for each item; the individual, business, or non-profit organization or other entity to whom you’d like your belongings once you’re gone. You may opt for one person, many people, or several people and organizations. If anyone should not get the item in question, make sure they are listed as well.
- Write your residuary clause. A residuary clause applies to everything that has not been designated to a specific person or is inadequately addressed in the assets section of the will, as well as whatever remains over after all other bequests have been fulfilled. You have the option of designating these “remainders” to a beneficiary or leaving them in your executor’s. Take note of this clause’s significance because you’re unlikely to recall everything you own, especially if this is your first will. The inclusion of a residuary provision provides a good enough safety measure that allows you to sleep well at night.
- Sign your will with witnesses. Before signing, you should verify the requirements in your state because they vary from one to the next. Some jurisdictions may even insist that you have your will notarized. A legal document, such as a will, is only valid if it has been signed before witnesses and notarized per state legislation.
- Store your will someplace safe and update it when necessary. Tell someone—typically your executor—where to get the most current copy of your will. It’s also a good idea to do some research whenever you experience a major life event, such as moving (particularly if your will does not comply with the laws in your new state or country), buying or investing in real estate, getting married, divorcing, dying,, and even when your children reach adulthood.
It’s also a good idea to reserve time once a year, perhaps every other year or so, to go through your will even if nothing significant has changed in your life. You may be shocked at how many resources you consider worth noting two years from now. Also, your ideas on beneficiaries and asset division preferences might change. It is at the very least a useful method to keep thinking about the future.
More information on writing a will: