Do I Need The Last Will Now?
Though it may not seem obvious, the last will and testament form can be one of the most crucial legal forms one would ever sign. Distributing your assets and detailing in a record how and by whom you wish your property to be inherited requires time and contemplation. One should bear in mind that a last will and testament are not the same as a living will.
While the first refine how your belongings will be shared, the second specifies how you wish to be treated with medical care at the end of your life. Last will is also important in the event its compiler has children to make sure that they are cared for and looked after by their potential guardians appointed by their parents in the will.
To further describe the notion, let’s get acquainted with the most common terms applied accordingly:
- Testator or testatrix: the person writing the will.
- Beneficiary: a person (heir) or an organization (e.g., a church) to obtain your assets.
- Executor: a trusted person to control compliance with the instructions.
- Probate: a legal process after one’s death validating your will.
- Witness: the person who signs and verifies the validity of your will.
- Guardian: the person to look after your children or pets.
- Estate: the total amount of all of your assets and debts.
Personal properties or assets require a more thorough explanation. Traditionally, they include real (houses, lands) and personal property (jewelry, valuable furniture, stocks, bank account balances, and more). More recently, the list has grown to include online assets (typically, social media/shopping accounts, cryptocurrency, personal websites, and so on).
If you’re now wondering if any ready-made last will template forms are available for free, you can easily find them online. Specialized websites offer various state-specific forms, including several crucial hints and guidelines on how to fill them out.
Have you compiled a will yet?
The properties mentioned in your will are shared mostly between children or a spouse; yet, charitable organizations or other private establishments can be options. Setting some money aside for covering the funeral expenses may also take place.
As for today’s statistics, apparently, there is a predictable tendency to overlook and underestimate the importance of such a legal form, especially if we are talking about young adults and middle-aged people.
According to a survey from 2023, two out of three Americans do not have a will or living trust yet. Among the over 2,400 respondents interviewed by Caring.com, 46% of people aged 55 and more and only 27% of respondents aged 35–54 have already composed those estate-planning documents.
How To Make a Last Will? 7 Helpful Last Will Tips
1. Select Last Will Format Wisely
Last Will can be an entirely handwritten document—which is called holographic—or template-based. While the first is undoubtedly cheaper and simpler, it is inferior to the fillable one because:
- It is not recognized in some states
- It might imply conflicting points that are much more disputable
- Generally harder to find when needed
- Has more chances to be considered void
So, in most cases, we advise using fillable last will templates. In case you need additional guarantees, you can always strengthen your will with the help of a professional attorney.
Please bear in mind that life insurance is not required in the will. Your insurance will be paid to your insurance recipients once they file a claim.
2. Analyze Your Assets Steadily
Evaluating and distributing every little thing you possess may sound stressful and tiresome. Begin with major properties and then appoint a person to get the residue or the so-called residuary estate. Compile a residuary estate clause in your last will and point to the name of such person—they will be legally recognized as a residuary beneficiary.
If you live in a community (or marital) property state (for instance, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin), half of all the assets gained since your marriage will go to your husband or wife automatically.
Besides, if you are a joint owner of anything (an apartment, for example), this asset unquestionably goes to the remaining owner. Plus, you cannot bestow an asset whose ownership you have already transferred in a retirement plan, trust, insurance policy, or stock.
3. Figure Out Your Heirs And Distribute Other Roles Attentively
You have to be detailed when describing who, how much, and what exactly each beneficiary will get. Selecting a charity organization as a beneficiary or evenly disbursing property between all the beneficiaries involved may also be a matter of your choice. Dividing the particular assets in percentages is recommended in some cases and clearly specifying which beneficiary inherits one or another piece of property.
An executor, which means a person accountable for property allocation and debt settlement, should be a person you fully trust, ideally with a background in business or law. Appointing a guardian is highly recommended if you have underage kids. Selecting two credible independent witnesses uninterested in your heritage—who will sign the form as well—is also very much required.
4. Indicate Special Wishes In Your Will
Last will forms mainly comprise specific special requests such as a provision concerning the burial procedure or the treatment of your remains. Before letting your fantasy go when it comes to special wishes in your last will, you have to consider the local laws first. Leaving all your properties to your cat may be a magnanimous gesture, yet some laws might not allow for it.
5. Finalize Your Last Will Clearly And Concisely
Whatever type of last will you eventually choose, you might also think about making the will self-evident to ease the whole procedure. To do this, you need to attach an oath document to your will (a self-proving affidavit form).
If you wish to strengthen it with a public notarial confirmation, it is advisable to compile a self-proclaimed will, as in most cases, it will still necessitate notarization.
Before signing the form, check the last will signing requirements by the State attentively.
6. Think About The Follow-Up Measures
The place to store your last will should be secure yet easily accessible. An alternative plan is keeping your will in a special safe or bank deposit or appointing an attorney as its keeper. Make sure you leave a notice guiding your spouse or other relatives on how to locate it once you forget about it. In some cases, your executor may be the person informed about the will’s place of storage or given a copy. You can make it easier for your executor to obtain your will through the will—the affirming affidavit is designed especially for that purpose.
7. Don’t Forget To Make the Will Official
Finally, once you have appointed two witnesses to validate the credibility of the last will, make sure they are not the same persons as your beneficiaries of the will. In the presence of two witnesses, you will have to leave your signature and date the will and verify that each of them has signed it and indicated their full names and addresses. The concluding phrase in the last will is typically the following: “We declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of (your state) that the foregoing is true and correct.”
Although there are no particular requirements to notarize your will, it would be legally binding to certify the form if you have an affidavit.
Hopefully, our article helped you clear out some essential points regarding compiling the will. Feel free to add these tips and guidelines to your arsenal, and do not further hesitate to confide in ready-made last will templates that will buy you some time and guide you through each core step meticulously.