Who likes to think about their death? No one! But death is a reality, and one day it will come. So you must think about what will happen to your family and how their needs will be met in such an event. That’s where a will comes into the picture. Making a will is one of the most significant decisions you can make for your family’s future.
The process of making a will seems daunting, but it is actually not. If you know everything about making a will, it gets even better. Below, you will find out everything you need to know about making a will.
What is a will?
A will, also called a testament, is a legal document outlining how you would want to distribute your assets after death. Making a will saves your family from financial problems, ugly disputes, and family skirmishes. A will can also be used to mention the guardians of your children, pets, and dependents.
Legal terms you must know before you make a will include:
Testator: The person creating the testament
Executor: The person selected by the testator to carry out the provisions of the will
Beneficiaries: Persons who, according to the will, have the share in assets and property
After your death, the will goes to the probate court, which then authorizes the executor to carry out the will’s provisions and distribute the property among the beneficiaries.
Why making a will is recommended?
If you die before you make a will, it is called dying ‘intestate. In such a situation, your property won’t be distributed according to your wishes. And it becomes the discretion of the local court to distribute the wealth according to law. In this case, your children, spouse, parents, siblings, and other relatives have a claim on your property. However, money distribution might not be how you would have liked it.
Some reasons why making a will is essential include the following.
- Your partner won’t get anything out of your property if you don’t have a civil relationship or is not married
- In the absence of a will, it is not possible to reduce the tax payable on the inherited assets
- With a will, you can mention your particular funeral plans
- You can decide who will not get anything out of your assets
In some situations, when you don’t have a will, your estate can get stuck in limbo. Meanwhile, your family and loved ones suffer due to a lack of funds.
Types of wills
Below are some of the main types of a will. Their details are:
As the name implies, it is a simple will that does not let you add complicated clauses. You can still add many details in a simple will, including the details of an executor and suggest the guardians’ names.
A mirror will is the type of will in which married couples or partners make an identical will and mention the same persons as beneficiaries. Each of these persons leaves their property to the other person.
Joint wills are somewhat similar to mirror wills. A couple makes this will to ensure the safety of their partner. However, the difference between a joint and a mirror will is that in the former, the couple makes it together. Both partners combine their wishes in a single will, and no one person can change the will without the consent of the other.
It is the type of will in which the testators write the details in their own handwriting and sign them. In some cases, these wills are written without any witness. However, these wills are not considered valid in every state. States who consider these wills valid require that there must be proof that the testator wrote it themselves and they were sound of mind.
Wills spoken aloud in front of an audience are called nuncupative wills. They are also referred to as “oral wills” or “deathbed wills.” Only a few states recognize them as valid wills. Additionally, the state can also mention some requirements that must be met.
What are the major requirements for making a will?
Every state has stipulated its own legal requirements for making a will; however, there are some standard requirements you must be aware of.
- You must be over 18 years old to be eligible for making a will
- You must be of sound mind and health— be able to understand the action you are undertaking
- You must not be under any influence or duress (someone pressuring a dementia patient to make a will)
- Sign your wills in the presence of at least two witnesses
Who writes the will?
When it comes to writing the will, you can choose one of the few options:
- Consult a solicitor
- Get help from a writing service
- Write your own will
Writing your will is the cheapest option, but due to the many legal details involved in this process, it is also one of the riskiest options. Even a small mistake while writing the will can become very problematic; it can make your will invalid too.
You should opt for writing your will if you have simple affairs. If your will contains more intricate details, including expensive properties, previous spouses, and partners, writing your will yourself is never recommended. Considering these intricacies, most people opt for hiring solicitors or will writing services.
What must be included in a will?
Some details that must be added to your will to make it work include:
Your will must mention the executors’ details (the person putting the will into effect). The name of the executor must be clearly mentioned in the will to eliminate any possibility of confusion.
When choosing an executor, try choosing alternative executors too. This practice strengthens your will because when the main executor cannot carry out the will’s provisions, the alternative executor can.
Also, before naming any person as the executor of your will, talk to that person, discuss what will be needed of them, and if they will be willing to take up the responsibility.
If you have kids less than eighteen years old, you need to nominate their guardians in your will. Generally, the living parent has the sole right to care for minors. But it is better to nominate other guardians who can care for the kids in case both parents die.
For pets, you can nominate a caretaker who will look after them in your absence. These guardians are called pet guardians. Nominating guardians for pets is important because, by law, pets are considered property.
Beneficiaries are people or organizations who have a claim on your property. You can include anyone in the list of beneficiaries, but the most commonly mentioned beneficiaries are children, spouses, relatives, etc.
Making a will ensures the financial security of your family and loved ones in case of your sudden death. Detailing the distribution of your wealth in a will means you can manage your assets even from the grave. It also helps you ensure that your assets don’t go to the wrong person’s hands.