Have you been meaning to write your Last Will and Testament, but just can’t get around to it? It’s not a pleasant subject and hiring an attorney can be expensive, so many people put it off until…
Adults over the age of 21 should always write a will to make clear to those who survive them, what their last wishes are regarding their investments, pets, children and possessions. Writing a will doesn’t have to be an elaborate, expensive process. If you want to write a simple will, you can do it yourself following a few basic guidelines.
In most states, when a person dies without a will, they are known as intestate, and their estate must be probated in the courts. Whatever is left of the estate after probate automatically goes to the individual’s spouse or living children, with no preference for where the remainder of the estate ends up. If you want to designate certain items to specific people, a will is necessary.
Wills can be do-it-yourself legal instruments if you have a small estate and your wishes are limited and simple. Check online for basic will templates. You can also write out a simple will yourself without a template and sign in front of two witnesses, one being a notary.
Basic sections to include in your will
Think about what you would like to put in your will ahead of time. If you are drawing up a do-it-yourself will, you will need to fill in these sections to make your wishes known.
1. Title: Last Will and Testament of (your full legal name here).
2. Declaration: List your full name and address and a statement saying you are of legal age and of sound mind and memory. You will also need to state that this will revokes all previously made wills and codicils, which are amendments to a will; that you are not under duress of any kind or under another’s influence.
3. Executor: Name the person or people you elect to carry out the provisions of your will and settle your estate.
4. Guardian: Names of any people who you want as guardians for minor children.
5. Beneficiaries: Your spouse or partner, children and others who you are to inherit from your estate. Be clear and detailed as to their identities and include their full legal names, addresses, phone numbers and other contact information.
6. Specific Bequests: This is the area where you leave instructions for any particular items or monies to be left to specific individuals. Put any instructions about your pets under this section. In most states, pets are considered possessions and treated accordingly. If you want to set up a trust to care for your animals, that must be done separately, and is not part of the will.
7. Funeral Arrangements: Leave directions for your funeral and burial in this section. Include any previous arrangements you may have made on your own behalf, including family burial plots, location, and contact information for the cemetery.
8. Signature and Witnesses: Make your final section an area where you can sign and date your will. This is also where your witnesses and the notary will sign and date that they have witnessed your signature.
If you’re an adult, 21 years or over, it’s always a good idea to have a will to make your wishes clear after your death. Writing a last will and testament can protect your assets and your beloved pets, allowing you to designate to whom those assets go upon your death.
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