Updated on August 2, 2017
The idea of putting together a will may seem like a daunting or intimidating task, but it is something that everyone should do in their lifetime. A survey done by Rocket Lawyer in 2016 showed that 64% of Americans don’t have a will. Writing your will can help communicate your wishes and desires regarding your property, and even your children, after your passing. It will also relieve any confusion or disputes with family and friends.
Here are a few things you MUST know before writing your will:
Your first step is to consider who you want to designate as your beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are the people who will receive your property that you have left behind. Typically people appoint their spouse, children, relatives, or close friends. You can have more than one beneficiary. If you’d like, you can name a secondary or even a tertiary beneficiary, in case your primary passes before you.
Appoint an executor
The executor is the one person who carries out all of your desires when you are gone. The other duties of an executor include collecting your assets and paying your debts. When deciding who you should appoint, there are some things you should think about:
- You can appoint more than one executor
- Your executor should be organized and understanding
- Keep in mind the location of your executor
You can learn more about appointing an executor here.
Pick a guardian for your children
One of the biggest concerns, as a parent, is making sure your kids are taken care of. Picking a guardian may not be an easy task, but it is important. In most situations, your spouse would be the one who would provide for your children. However, in the event something was to happen to both of you, you need to consider who you would want to care for your children in the event something was to happen to both of you.
Sign your will with witnesses
Once you have completed your will, you need to have the document signed and witnessed. To sign, you need to be of legal age and mentally competent. You need witness signatures to attest that you knew what you were signing.Restrictions on who can be a witness, as well as whether your will needs to be notarized, vary across the country. Be sure to check witness and notary specifications for your state.
But what should you do with your will once it’s completed?
Put your will in a safe place
You will want to put your will in a safe and secure place. You’ll want to keep it somewhere someone can easily find it if needed, such as a safe in your home or even in a safety deposit box. You might also consider making copies of your will and providing them to those you trust.
Review and amend your will
It’s always a good idea to review and amend your will whenever you have a life change. This could mean marriage, divorce, an addition to your family, or even the purchase of a new car. Instead of drawing up a whole new will, you can make these legal changes to your will with a codicil.
Finish your estate plan
Once your will is completed, you may want to consider completing other estate planning documents. These documents such as power of attorney, living will, and living trust, are just as important for your loved ones. These documents help when important decisions that have to be made, which are not included in your will. This would include things like electing someone to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf.
Rocket Lawyer provides an online interview process that makes creating your will quick and simple. Answer a few easy question and we’ll create your personalized, legal will in minutes. For more information on estate planning, check out the Rocket Lawyer Estate Planning hub.