Let’s be honest, to find the will to write a will is a struggle as we get older. There are plenty of reasons to do everything else but plan a will. Most of us would rather hit the golf course or hang out with our buddies, rather than write a dry document that reminds us of our inevitable deaths.
Here’s a fact that may or may not surprise you; according to a 2017 survey, more than half of American adults don’t have a will. The reality is that we can’t go on avoiding it. The safety and security of the loved ones we will leave behind depend on it. In the absence of a will, the state will decide how to allocate your assets and your family could lose a significant amount in the process.
Death doesn’t usually come with an announcement, so getting your will in order is a task of utmost priority. Procrastinating and thinking that you will live forever is of no help. So the question arises: how do we go about planning our wills? Well, here’s what you can do:
Go The DIY Route Or Get A Lawyer
Making a will isn’t as complicated as it is sometimes made out to be. Even a will written on a napkin is valid, providing that it follows state laws. This stipulation is the reason why some folks hire a lawyer even when they are using a software or online tool for making a will. Getting professional legal help will save your family from losing money in taxes and legal fees. It will also give you access to some great ideas for dividing assets. While you’re at it, get financial and health powers of attorney documents made so that your wishes are followed in case you are incapacitated.
Write Down Your Assets
Start listing the assets that you own. Start with savings and valuable objects, then pensions, business shares, bonds, mutual funds, then property, like houses or a plot of land. Lastly, add any sentimental items to the list that may or may not have any considerable monetary value.
Select Your Beneficiaries
From your wealth and properties to your collection of rare Topps baseball cards, everything has to have a beneficiary listed in your will. Before you put down who gets what, it is recommended that you give it some thought and plan it out on a separate piece of paper first. If someone is not getting anything, be specific about it. Otherwise, it will be presumed that you forgot to add that person and can get your will challenged in court.
Pick An Executor
Making sure that everything happens according to your will is the job of the executor. That’s why it is crucial to pick someone who is responsible for this job. Although allowed, it is never advised to pick one of your children for this role as it may lead to conflict. Instead appoint a distant relative, lawyer or bank. Since being an executor can be a difficult task, it is advisable that you allocate 2 to 4 percent of your assets as a fee.
Add A Personal Touch To The Will
Many people want to leave personal instructions that don’t fit into the very serious format of the will. If you plan to leave behind some special instruction, a sentimental thought or have the last laugh, you can attach a letter to your will. That’s one way of ensuring immortality.
Get Your Will Signed
To ensure that your will is legit, you need to get it signed by people who are over the age of 18, do not get to benefit from the will, and will hopefully outlive you. The number of signees can vary from 2 to 3, depending on state regulations. In case the will gets challenged, it will be these signees that will act as witnesses.
Store Your Will
Make sure that you have placed your will in a place where it can be easily retrieved when it’s needed. A probate court will require an original copy in order to process the will. Most people keep wills in a bank or personal safe to protect it from falling into the wrong hands or getting destroyed. Even if the original is destroyed, the attorney will bring out copies in his possession with witness signatures. As an added precaution, choose someone in addition to your spouse to trust with the location of the will.
Update the Will
“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” isn’t just a Lenny Kravitz song. It’s also a rule of thumb when it comes to wills. Make sure to update it every four years and every time someone dies, someone new joins the family, or someone royally pisses you off.
Congratulations! You are now done with setting up your will. Now go back to downing martinis, jet-setting across Europe, flirting with heiresses and living your best life.