Estate planning is not something that most people will jump head first into. Perhaps it has a bit to do with being faced with their own mortality. Still, if you own assets and have dependents, then estate planning is particularly important. If your estate is not properly planned and outlined in a will, then chances are all your assets that you leave behind can end up in the hands of the government or other hands you never intended it to. This quick and concise guide will help walk you through the processes of will and estate planning.
How to Write Your Will and Plan Your Estate
There are several options available for those who wish to start writing their will and planning their estate. You can opt to use a template and the help of legal aid when getting started, or you can opt to do it on your own. Should you choose the latter, here is what you should know about will writing and the order it should take.
– Introduction: Your will should be clearly labeled
At the very top of your will, it should be clearly labeled “Last Will and Testament.” Your personal information including, name, age, mental soundness, social security number, and address should all be included.
– Select the executor of your estate
The executor of your estate is the person you leave in charge of carrying out the directives of your will. Your executor can be a spouse, or trusted friend or relative. Whoever you choose to execute your estate, it is a good idea to have the conversation with them first.
– Identify beneficiaries
The next step is to identify your heirs and beneficiaries of your estate. These beneficiaries can include spouses, children and other persons you wish to make provisions for. Be sure to clearly identify these individuals. If any of the beneficiaries are minors, then guardians for them should also be clearly identified.
– Assess and divide assets
Of course, the major part of a will and estate is the assets therein. Clearly list your assets, including banks and retirement accounts, bonds, real estate, and tangible assets. Jointly owned assets or ones that already have a designated beneficiary are generally not included in your assets. Finally, be sure to assign total percentages of your assets to your heirs and individual asset beneficiaries where others are concerned.
– Have it signed and notarized
In most instances, it is recommended that your will, once completed, is signed in the presence of a notary public and stamped with their seal. Otherwise, a signature may not be considered valid. Additionally, ensure that the signing takes place in the presence of at least two witnesses.
A Final Note
Even with the help of all the information provided in this guide, it may still be important to get professional and legal assistance. This guide is not a substitute for will and estate legal services.