One thing that every human shares is mortality. And when we do pass, it makes sense that we’d want to leave our possessions to those closest to us. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that gives you the peace of mind of knowing your estate will be distributed as you want it to be.
While it is not a legal requirement to write a will, it is still recommended to help ensure a smooth transition after you pass. Not only that but anybody of legal age can write a will, not only those who have reason to believe they are nearing the end of their life. After all, young people are occasionally taken from us early, potentially leaving questions over the distribution of their belongings.
This often leads to the question of how to go about the process of writing a will, and we’ve crafted this brief guide to help.
Define Your Estate
In this context, your estate means all that you own. And before you can distribute your belongings, you first need to define just what your estate includes.
In many cases, this will involve savings, property, and personal belongings. Some people will also have investments and it would be a good idea for some to ask an accountant to help them calculate their worth. Regardless, once you know what you have to give, you can start thinking about how to distribute it.
Define Who You Want in Your Will
You get to distribute your will as you see fit, provided no laws are broken, and most people would want to distribute their estate evenly among siblings and children, etc. Some people have even left their estate to their pets to ensure they are well cared for the rest of their lives.
Not only do you need to decide who to include in your will, but also the amount they are to receive. Some people might hire an accountant or somebody in a similar role to help them with distributing their estate.
Select Your Executor
The executor is the person assigned with the responsibility of distributing the deceased’s estate as per their will. In most cases, the role is assigned to a senior family member considered trustworthy by the deceased. In some cases, a legal representative will be appointed to be the executor of the will.
An executor may also have other responsibilities in addition to distributing the estate. For example, they might also be necessary to make certain arrangements on behalf of the deceased, including ensuring that any pets are taken care of.
How to Make My Will Legally Binding?
The good news for most people is that making your will legally binding is not usually difficult. When writing your will, you should clearly identify every person mentioned so there’s no doubt over who you are talking about. You should also be absolutely clear about what they should receive, again leaving no room for misunderstandings.
You can even download free will templates online that will help you write a will that’s clear and legally binding. And in most cases, such wills are perfectly fine. However, if your estate is particularly valuable or if you think there’s a particular reason why your will would be contested, it is best to speak to a professional.
Do Your Homework
If you are writing your will yourself, it’s best to do your homework first. It’s usually far from being a complex process but laws change depending on where you are so it’s best to be on the safe side. If you’re still unsure whether your will is legally binding and have reason to believe somebody might try to challenge it, it’s best to speak to a professional.
Editing Your Will
Your personal circumstances can easily change over time. For example, your financial situation can change significantly, meaning your will needs to be changed accordingly. Personal relationships can also change, and potential benefactors might also pass away, meaning a change may be necessary.
You are free to change your will as you see fit and can do so as many times as you like. Doing so will require a document known as a codicil, which will address any required amendments. The exact nature of a codicil varies according to your location, so it’s a good idea to check with a professional first.
Don’t Forget Funeral Arrangements
Writing a last will and testament is a great time to let others know of any funeral preferences. This can involve anything from the location to what people are expected to wear on the day. Of course, funerals vary considerably as people have so many different beliefs and preferences, and it can also help to speak with a funeral director first.
Above is just a brief outline of how to write a last will and testament. It can be a difficult and emotional affair as we consider our own mortality, but a will can help reduce some of the stress on the living once we have passed.
In most cases, a downloaded template will be all that you need, and writing a will doesn’t necessarily have to cost a penny. However, people with large or complex estates might need help from a professional to ensure their estate is distributed according to their wishes.