Gone are the days when a will was only for those who belong to the upper class. Today, you don’t necessarily have to be a billionaire for you to have a will. It’s practical for everyone to have one before they die to secure their family’s future. This is especially true when your kids are still quite young.
Writing your last will and testament can be one of the most stressful steps in estate planning. It can also be the longest step. You’ll want to make sure you cover all the aspects you’ll want to include in your will, making sure your final plan respects the wishes you have set forth in your will.
Here are some helpful tips when writing your last will:
1. State Your Will’s Intent
First, state your intent. What is it that you hope to accomplish with your will? Do you hope to have a specific purpose for the plan (to create an estate), or do you simply want it to serve as a ‘formal’ plan for your affairs?
Ask yourself these questions to help decide what direction you wish to take for your estate planning process. Your intent will shape all other decisions that’ll necessarily come right after. For instance, will you work with a professional to develop a plan that meets your needs, or do you want to take a more hands-on approach and address these concerns yourself?
2. Give Yourself The Time To Thoroughly Prepare
Second, prepare. You may not have the time to spend on every single detail of your estate plan, which is why it also helps to have an expert estate planning lawyer by your side. Otherwise, if you rush the process without really knowing and considering well what to do and include, you might come up with a last will that lacks preparation and, therefore, incomplete.
Here are some tips that can help ensure you’re creating a will that’s well-prepared:
- Start with your highest priorities.
- Write down everything you wish to include, such as your death and funeral arrangements, for instance.
3. Gather All The Necessary Documents You Need
Next, gather documents and information that are appropriate to your case. Your will might name a guardian for your minor children, for example. If so, get a power of attorney for that person. This is precisely why it’s very important to go back to Step 2, which is to give yourself the ample time to prepare.
As you gather all of the necessary documents you need, don’t just have one copy of each, just in case you lose one. More so, an advanced copy of your will could be kept by your attorney for reference if need be. Some wills simply don’t require any further action on your part, such as naming a personal representative to handle any issues that come up during the administration of your estate.
Review these documents for errors and inconsistencies. Have your attorney check these items for accuracy before signing them.
4. Review, Review, Review
Always take the time to review your will before you sign it. If you’ve had your will made quite early on in your life, you may also want to take the time to do an annual review.
Every time you review, don’t be afraid to ask your attorney any questions that you may have. Your lawyer can tell you how much you can change or make in the plan, which you can carry forward in the case of an estate settlement. Estate planning isn’t a one-time thing; you need to continue the process throughout your life.
5. Complete Your List Of Beneficiaries
You should also always have a beneficiary’s statement prepared. This is a list of everyone who will receive money or other assets from your will. Be as thorough as possible when preparing this document, listing each person’s date of birth, contact information, and identification numbers, among others. You should also mention anyone who you have already paid off debts to (such as credit cards or mortgage loans).
Writing your last will is one of the most important steps you’ll ever have to go through in your life. When you get your last legal papers in the mail, review them carefully. Always be prepared for the changes that may come up in your estate plan. Most importantly, if you need help preparing your estate plan, talk to an attorney or accountant. This plan is one of the only ways that you can leave your loved ones financially comfortable after you die. Don’t lose your hard work before it’s too late.