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Nobody wants to think about death. Preparing for it and distributing an inheritance in advance may be quite an unpleasant thing. But eventually, we all are going to pass away. Making your last will is also an act of caring for your loved ones and a way to make things simpler for them.
If you skip the phase of making your own will, your estate will pass to the heirs in the order of inheritance by law.
What To Know
Last will is a legal document in which a person disposes of their estate in the event of death: how exactly and among what people their property, debts, and rights need to be divided. The law allows you to include a wide variety of conditions in the will and makes it possible for each person to make a testament that considers their wishes and needs as much as possible.
A testament only takes effect after death. Unlike a gift or rent agreement, it does not grant any rights during the owner's life. You might be confused about where to get started, so these are the steps you need to take before you start writing your last will and testament:
- Check whether you qualify under the requirements for the testator.
- Identify the property.
- Choose the inheritors.
- Select an executor (the person who will be responsible for distributing your assets).
- Write the text of the will or get help from an attorney.
- Sign the will yourself and find two witnesses who are not mentioned in your will to sign it too.
- Notarize it if needed in your state.
- Find a safe place to store it.
You may also want to name a guardian for your underage children or get the estate planning done or consider the option of finding an inheritance funding company. Those things need to be done earlier to get all of the required information about your assets (including your personal finance, real estate, life insurance policies, etc.). Besides debts, beneficiaries (people who may or may not be your family members and organizations that will inherit your assets), guardians, or executors who will make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Writing Your Will
There are no strict requirements for wording, and it can be made in free form, but you still need to describe your wishes clearly and distinctly. You may want to find a free online template, but it is not always a good idea, so ensure there is no chance of ambiguous interpretations. To avoid fatal mistakes, you can make a will alongside an attorney or take legal advice from a law firm.
A will can only be written. You can write it by hand or type it on your computer, but you can ask your friend, family member, or another person in power of attorney to do it for you. Now, all that is left for you to do is make a list of things you want to leave to your significant others.
Maybe after some time has passed, you would like to implement changes, for example, update your first choice of the estate plan or disinherit one of your children. Feel free to enforce edits at any moment. You can write a new will or submit an order to the attorney to cancel the old one. You can make a new testament with different conditions and undo all the previous ones. The old one, in that case, must be destroyed.
If you are not going to change the preсeding will's terms, you can clarify or supplement them by making a codicil. A codicil will be in the form of an additional legal document written on a separate page and requires a signature and two witnesses.
What Makes a Will Invalid?
Factors that make the will a legally binding document vary from one state to another, and violating the requirements can lead to declaring it invalid. Nevertheless, some of them are crucial everywhere.
At the time of signing (and certification by a notary if needed) of the testament, you need to be of sound mind, which means being officially mentally healthy and understanding the meaning of your actions. You cannot be intoxicated or under the influence of potent drugs. The process also requires the presence of two witnesses that are not listed in your will.
The negative impression of the words “last will and testament” is a common stereotype. It has nothing to do with bad omens, and in fact, it is an essential legal document that, once signed, provides safety and order into your and your closest ones' lives.
In the will, you can leave an inheritance to anyone and specify what property and under what conditions the heirs will receive. It is the only way to divide your estate according to your wishes, not the state's regulations.