A will is a legal document that lets you control how your assets are distributed after your death. Making a will ensures your final wishes are followed smoothly and your loved ones have what they need to move forward. However, not everyone has made a will, and according to recent studies, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. don’t have one. Considering that more than half of Americans die alone, this statistic is pretty concerning! The good news is that making a simple will is relatively easy and inexpensive to do. Here’s everything you need to know about wills in general and why you should consider making one sooner rather than later!
What exactly is a will?
A will is a legal document that lets you control how your assets are distributed after your death. It’s similar to a business plan in that it outlines your plans, but in this case, you’re planning for the end of your life and what you want to happen to all of your assets when you die.
The will also names a person (known as the executor) who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in the will. The executor is in charge of making sure that your wishes are carried out after your death.
Why Do You Need a Will?
A will is your chance to decide who gets what after you die. It also allows you to specify if you’re donating any of your assets, such as to charities or other organizations. If you don’t make a will, the state where you live will decide who gets everything.
There are two types of wills: the “pour-over” will and the “contested” will.
A “pour-over” will is a will that “pours over” your assets for the people who are legally entitled to them.
In a “contested” will, the people in your family who inherit your assets have to go to court to prove that they are entitled to what you left them.
How to Make a Will
There are tons of articles and guides online that talk about how to make a will. The process is pretty straightforward, although it’s a good idea to enlist a lawyer to make sure that your will is properly done. You want to make sure that your will is valid because if it’s not, then your assets will go to your next of kin through the intestacy laws of your state. If you want to make a will, here’s what you need to know:
Find a quiet place to sit down and write your will. It may sound silly, but you want to make sure that you’re in a calm and quiet environment when writing your will.
Make sure that you use proper grammar in your will and get everything written down clearly. Your will is legally binding, so you want to make sure that everything is written down exactly how you want it.
Sign your will in front of two witnesses. Make sure that the witnesses are people who are not related to you. This ensures that the will is not challenged in court.
Keep a copy of the will at home and one in your safe deposit box or other secure location. You’re also encouraged to send a copy of the will to your family members.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Make Your Will
Making your will as soon as possible reduces the chance of forgetting about it in the future or being unable to create it during a critical situation. Waiting until you’re in your 50s, 60s, or later to make a will is a mistake.
Creating a will at the earliest convenience is an excellent decision since no one can predict what the future holds, be it in their personal or professional life.
You might have a child later in life and want to leave money to him or her. You might get married and want to leave your assets to your spouse. You might have kids from a previous marriage and want to leave money to that side of the family.
There are many reasons why you should make your will early on, but the most important one is that you don’t want to leave your family wondering what will happen after you die.
3 Tips for Writing Your Will
We emphasize that you should start writing up a will sooner than later because anything can happen to you at any given time. However, if you are reading this article, you probably have no idea where to start when it comes to writing your will. So we are going to give you three simple steps to start writing your will now.
Follow these 3 tips:
Use Words That You Understand – When making your will, it’s important that you use language that you understand. If you don’t understand what you wrote, then how are the people who read your will supposed to understand it? You don’t want to make any misunderstandings.
Put Your Will in a Safe Spot – After you have written your will, you’ll want to put it in a safe spot where no one can tamper with it. You don’t want someone else forging your will after you’re gone. You must put your will in a spot where it is safe and accessible by the executor after you die.
Be Smart About What You Leave to People. While you aim to distribute your assets equitably among all parties, it is advisable not to exhibit excessive generosity towards a single individual or member of the family. You want to make sure that you’re fair, but also make sure that you don’t leave a ton of debt for your heirs to pay off.
Making a will is a good idea for everyone. Make a will even if you don't have many assets. It tells your loved ones how you want them to be cared for once you're gone. It also lets your family members know who they can go to if they have a question about your will. A will is a quick and easy process that you should do as soon as possible.