Whether you are just married, have been married for decades, or if you’re single with no dependents, you need a will. A will is an important legal instrument that ensures your assets are distributed according to your intent after you die. Creating a will might sound like a hassle, and you might be tempted to put if off for a few years or type up a “will” on your own. Neither of these is a good decision, however, as accidents happen and you want to make sure your loved ones are cared for and your estate is distributed the way you want it to be.
How Do I Make a Valid Will?
First and foremost, you need to contact an experienced attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney can guide you through the process and make it simple and straightforward, not to mention legally binding. Simply put, taking matters into your own hands will not work.
Next, your will needs to be in the form of a signed writing. Your entire will must be in writing, and while most wills are typed, it is possible to have a will that is entirely handwritten, called a holographic will. To prepare for this stage of the will creation process, you need to ask yourself three key questions: what are my assets, where do I want them to go, and who do I want to make sure my assets go where I want them to?
It is especially important you have a complete accounting of your assets, as any assets that are not explicitly given to a beneficiary in your will be subject to what is known as the “residuary” of your will. The residuary is the property that remains once everything has been distributed according to the terms of your will, and typically passes pursuant to the Uniform Probate Code rules or applicable state statutes. In short, unless you specify where you want an asset to go, you may have no control over where it actually goes after your death.
Next, you will need two witnesses to watch you sign your will, and to sign your will as well. Ideally, these witnesses should be disinterested witnesses, in that they are not getting anything from your will. These could be co-workers, neighbors, or even friends. The important thing is that they witness you and each other sign the will.
It may seem obvious, but you need to be of sound mind and body when you execute your will. If you do not understand you are executing a will, or if you do not have the present intent to execute a will, courts will not validate the will, or your beneficiaries can challenge the will as being invalid.
Need Help Making a Will?
While a will may seem like a hassle, the effort that goes into preparing a will is nothing compared to the months or even years-long hassle your loved ones and other interested parties will have to go through to settle your estate if you die without one. The experienced attorneys at M&A Law Firm, PC, are ready to help make your will drafting and execution process easy and straightforward. Contact M&A Law Firm, PC, today to discuss your options.