5 things you need to know before writing your will

5 things you need to know before writing your will

5 things you need to know before writing your will

In simple terms, we can define a will as a legal document that states how your estate will be managed after your death. It can include properties and valuable assets that you own, but can equally include something as small as a book or piece of jewelry to which you attach important sentimental value.

The person who writes a will is called a ‘testator’. Anyone who benefits from it is known as a ‘beneficiary’, while the appointed person who manages everything on your behalf after your death is known as an ‘executor’.

There are many different factors that you need to consider before writing a will and this article comprehensively discusses five of the most important.

Should I hire a lawyer?

There is no law stating that you are required to take the services of a professional lawyer to conduct your will writing activities. There are many sources available on the internet that provide a basic guideline and template on how to write your will. While there are different formats and a person can, in essence, write anything that they want in a will, proper attention must be paid to following the strict set of guidelines that exist to help in ensuring that your will meets the standards set out by law. If you do not, it may not be valid or may be challenged, after your death.

If you take the other route and hire a legal representative to deal with your will preparation, this can be helpful in many ways. A qualified lawyer can give useful insight on how to manage your business finances, come up with planning for your living trusts and make sure that the will have fulfilled all the legal requirements. Having an experienced hand also bodes well for the future as there will be someone officially appointed to implement all that you have stated as your last wishes.

Name a guardian for minor children

If you have children who are under 18 years of age then your will should name a guardian for them. In some cases when one parent dies and the other is not fit to fulfill the duties, or in instances where both the parents have passed away, this becomes imperative. The extended family or courts will need to look at your will before deciding who will be in charge of your children. If there is no information about this then the court is free to decide to the best of its abilities who is the best fit to be a guardian. To avoid such a situation think of the first and second choice of the person who you would like to take on this role in the event of your death.

Keep different factors in mind before reaching a decision such as your relationship with the person, their desire to be guardians, how similar or dissimilar your parenting styles and lifestyles are if they are fit to be a guardian character-wise and how your children would feel growing up with that person. If it’s possible, do talk with the people you have in mind before reaching a final decision.

List all your assets

Most people consider assets to be things that have a large value in terms of money. Usually, joint accounts and beneficiary accounts are already decided as they are passed to the partner and beneficiaries respectively and aren’t considered part of a will. But if you own a property or a bank account that’s just in your name then it’s important to declare them so that they are passed to the other persons if that’s what you want.

Similarly, if you want to sell them or create a trust, all of that is decided when you list your possessions. The significant assets can also include a car, land you own or a house that you built. Sentimental value items also are equally important and you must decide who to pass them onto. They can include jewelry, photographs, books, and even your certificates or medals. Consider what you cherish the most and think about whether there is someone specific in your family or circle of friends who should have them and appreciate them.

Decide your beneficiaries

A beneficiary is anyone who will benefit from your will. In most cases, it is your immediate family such as son, daughter or spouse. If you are married and have no children then your assets are passed on to your spouse automatically, but other cases are different. You might want to pass them onto your children instead of spouse so consider all situations. In some cases, people pass on assets to extended family members in their will too because of an emotional attachment.

Similarly, people can pass on their money and property to a charity they have worked for or consider an important cause. It is important to be clear about who you want to have what. Wills that are incomplete or vague lead to family disputes after you are gone. You can also write a letter of ‘instruction’ to list the future owner of each item you have although this document does not have any legal value.
Appoint an Executor
An executor is a person who will take responsibility for seeing that all the wishes you make in your will are fulfilled. Choosing an executor is perhaps the most important decision you have to make. Make sure it is someone you trust fully to carry out your instructions. Most people appoint someone who is part of the will or a beneficiary as they will want to make sure everything is settled because of their stake in it.

Appointing someone who does not have any interest can be a bad decision but there are exceptions. Sometimes you do not have a trustworthy person or are cautious that it may result in conflicts among the family members. In this case, employing the services of a legal professional is an excellent choice as it will give you and your family members the satisfaction that everything will be arranged as per your wishes. There is, of course, a cost factor involved with this course of action, which is usually paid from your estate, so make sure you know all the pros and cons.

In a nutshell, keep in mind that every situation is different and the circumstances related to you and your family can change at any time. But keeping these five points in mind will help you focus on the most important aspects of will make.

5 things you need to know before writing your will

5 things you need to know before writing your will

5 things you need to know before writing your will

5 things you need to know before writing your will
5 things you need to know before writing your will

5 things you need to know before writing your will
5 things you need to know before writing your will
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5 things you need to know before writing your will


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