WILL PREPARATION - CHECKLIST FOR MAKING A WILL
Updated: Jan 2
Are you overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin while preparing a will? Do you find yourself completely bogged down attempting to navigate the complex legalities of estate planning and unsure what documents or steps are necessary for creating an effective will? Any estate strategy must include the writing of a will. It doesn’t matter if your financial assets are minimal or significant. Without proper preparation and process, complications can occur in carrying out your wishes after death. The best way to avoid potential issues is by following a comprehensive checklist while preparing a personalized, individualized document of the last testament that reflects your wishes. Let us help guide you on this journey with our helpful list outlining the steps required for making a valid and binding will.
Why Checklist Is Important?
A will checklist is important to ensure that all your wishes are carried out. It’s also the best way to ensure that your property is distributed according to your desires and that your family and loved ones are taken care of. A checklist enables you to ensure the will is properly drafted and complies with all legal criteria for validity. Additionally, a checklist can help you keep track of all the details and steps required in making a will. By having a complete checklist, you can be sure that your wishes will be followed when you’re gone Checklist for Making a Will
List out your assets
Choose an executor
Name a guardian (if necessary)
Gather your witnesses
Ensure the will is valid
Store the will safely
LIST OUT YOUR ASSETS
You may start creating your will by producing a list of all your property and assets since your estate is the collection of everything you possess after you pass away. You don't have to write out every item you own since you can leave low-value belongings to the executor's estate in your will as personal property. (Using a professional will-preparation service or attorney will ensure you don't need to do more work than is necessary because they are familiar with these phrases.) All of your assets and divide them into two main categories - “Probate” assets (assets that go through probate, such as real estate, stocks, bonds, etc. ) and “non-probate” assets (assets that do not go through probates, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies.)
Once you have determined the items to be included in your will, it is time to select your beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are the individuals, organizations or entities who will receive certain parts of your estate when you pass away. You may want to consult with a professional for help in selecting the best people for this role since it is important that these individuals can carry out any wishes outlined in your will. While creating a will checklist, you can discover that you have additional requirements or reservations about a beneficiary. You may need to prepare for things like their specific requirements or their foolish spending patterns. In such a situation, instead of leaving them any assets through a will, you could wish to set up a special trust (more on trusts later).
CHOOSE AN EXECUTOR
After identifying your beneficiaries, it is crucial to appoint an executor. An executor of a will is the person who oversees and administers the estate on behalf of the deceased. This individual is responsible for distributing the assets and fulfilling the wishes of the deceased according to their will. It is important to select someone who can be trusted, capable of handling such a task and preferably one with some legal and financial knowledge.
NAME A GUARDIAN (IF NECESSARY)
If you have minor children, you will need to designate a guardian for them in your will. It is important to consult with the potential guardian before naming them in the will so that they know your wishes and can appropriately handle the responsibility. This guardian should be reliable, responsible and capable of caring for the minor children and their needs.
GATHER YOUR WITNESSES
In many states, you will need witnesses to sign your will for it to be legally binding. These witnesses should also be present when you sign the will. The witnesses should not have any direct interest in the estate or be related to anyone in your will. It is important to choose the right people since they will be testifying that you did sign your own will. Deciding on who will serve as your witnesses when you are drafting your will could help you save time when it comes time to self-proving and notarizing it.
Once you have drafted the will and chosen witnesses, it is time to sign the documents. Depending on your state, you may be required to have your will notarized or self-proving so that it can stand in court. This means that you and the witnesses need to sign the documents, provide their names and addresses, and then include a signed affidavit for each witness. In some states, your signature may require two additional witnesses when you sign the documents. By signing the appropriate forms, you formally declare that this is your last will and testament.
ENSURE THE WILL IS VALID
Once you have completed your will, it is important to ensure it is valid. Make sure the will was written and signed according to your state laws. In addition, you should consider having an attorney review your will. This can help ensure that all legal requirements have been met and help you avoid any disputes.
STORE THE WILL SAFELY
Once your will is complete, it should be stored in a safe place where it can easily be found when needed. You may want to consider keeping the original document in a safe deposit box or storing it with your attorney. It is also wise to have a second copy in a separate location, such as with the executor or a trusted family member.