There comes a time when we all have to think about the inevitable; what will we leave our loved ones when we pass away. Whether or not you have a large estate to divide up or just a few treasured family heirlooms, it takes some careful consideration who will receive what and how to ensure your wishes are carried out.
Many people are now using on-line “will” preparation services. An on-line will is basically a template where you plug your information into the blanks. These services cost less than hiring an attorney to prepare your will; however, you will need to check to see if this type of will is legal and binding in your state. Hiring an attorney will ensure the legality of your last will and testament.
Begin your preparation for your last will and testament by compiling a list of all your assets. This should include stocks, bonds, real estate holdings, bank accounts, retirement accounts if applicable, and any motor vehicles. Next, compile a list of all your family heirlooms or items you wish to pass on to others. This might include jewelry, hand-made items, treasured family mementos or furniture. Another step in preparing your will is to list all beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries might include a surviving spouse, any children or grandchildren, friends, your church or any charity. Keep in mind as you are listing your beneficiaries that if there is someone you are purposely leaving out of your will, it is a good idea to state their omission in the will. This will eliminate any thought that they were simply forgotten and stop any attempt to contest the will. The completed last will and testament will need to be signed and witnessed.
An executor will need to be appointed to oversee the will’s execution. This person will handle the final expenses of the deceased by paying any creditors before the division of money. If property needs to be sold, this person will oversee that process. The executor will also represent the deceased at any court hearings. Typically, an executor is a trusted family member or close friend, however an executor might also be the lawyer preparing the will.
As mentioned before, each state has requirements to ensure a last will and testament is legal. The best way to make sure you have crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s is to seek legal expertise.