Drafting Your Will: 8 Steps You Must Follow To Avoid Any Hassles

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The thought of having to draft a will at some point in life isn’t the most pleasant one for any individual. But if you thoroughly work on it now, your future self will thank you. It is one of those tasks that you might want to put off as much as you can. But procrastination will lead to more issues and complications down the line.

Although thinking about your death and what it will entail for your loved ones is heart-wrenching, it is still crucial to preserve the future of your dependents. For this reason, we are going to discuss the critical steps of drafting a will.

  1. List down assets and liabilities 

Before you begin drafting your will, you must first make a list of all your assets and liabilities. An asset is any tangible and intangible resource owned or controlled by a person and has some economic value. It includes investments, automobiles, real estate, household possessions, etc. On the other hand, liabilities are all the debt you owe to any person, company, or bank. It includes bank loans, bills, mortgages, etc. Once you make a list of your assets and liabilities, sort them into the following categories:

  • Moveable properties that include cash stock, jewelry, bonds, and so forth
  • Immoveable property such as real estate
  • Heirlooms and jewelry
  1. Select beneficiaries for your will 

Once you have made a list of your assets, you must decide who will benefit from them. In most cases, beneficiaries include family dependents, such as spouses, children, parents, etc. Apart from that, you can also include charities in your last will.

For instance, you might want to give donations to a non-profit organization such as OECD. If you add them as a beneficiary in your will, the executor will bequest donation to OECD on your behalf. However, if you don’t designate any beneficiary, the court will have to determine how to distribute your assets and property.

  1. Plan for dependents 

If you have dependents such as children, pets, or family members, you must not forget about their future when creating a will. If there are minor children, you must choose a willing and capable person to become their guardian and nominate them in the will. Similarly, you can assign a human charge to take care of your pets after you pass away.

In addition to that, it is wise to choose a successor guardian if the first one cannot fulfill the role. In this way, your pets and children are taken care of no matter what.

  1. Prepare assets

Suppose you want to transfer any specific item to a beneficiary. In that case, you don’t necessarily have to write down your assets in the will. However, your assets might liquidate when probating the document, giving the executor means to distribute proceedings among the beneficiaries. Through these means, the executor can include the list of your assets at the time of use, no matter how much you update them during your lifetime. They would consist of your house, real estate properties, vehicles, investments, financial accounts, jewelry, antiques, etc.

  1. Add a residuary beneficiary 

Once your assets are used to pay off any bills, taxes, and debts and the amount has been distributed among the beneficiary; the residual beneficiary gets what is left over. It can be a person, a company, or a charity that has already had a share of the main assets or someone new. Either way, whatever of your assets are left, it goes to that person. If there is no residuary beneficiary, the court will distribute the assets according to the law in the particular state.

  1. List your funeral preferences 

You can use a separate document to draft the funeral preferences that you wish to follow. However, you can also include them in your will. It can include details such as the place of the funeral, whether you want to be buried or cremated, and the burial location.

The details you add will depend upon you, and you can add as many or as few points as you like.

  1. Choose an executor 

An executor is any reliable person you select to carry out your wishes upon your death. If you have a legally valid will, the court will allow the executor to carry out your wishes as stated in the will. Therefore, choosing the executor is one of the most crucial tasks. They will be responsible for paying any debt, bill, and leftover taxes, distributing the property among beneficiaries and handling the probate process.

It must be a person you trust the most to carry out your wishes precisely. But you can choose more than one person to become your will’s executor.

  1. Print the will and get it signed 

If you have drafted the will on paper, then you need an authentic sign. If you type or prepare it using online services, print the copy and add your signature to the bottom of the page. Moreover, you will need two additional signs of witnesses above the age of 18 years old. Some states do not permit beneficiaries to be your witnesses. In that case, you will need a trusted third party to sign as your witness.

Conclusion

Once you finish working on your will, scrutinize the documents for any errors or mistakes. Likewise, don’t forget to adhere to all the legal requirements as per your state. Undoubtedly, death is a scary reality, but knowing that your family and loved ones are taken care of can provide significant relief. Lastly, keep your will safe at a secure location, a place that your executor knows how to access.

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Potentash Founder. A creative writer and editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories. Find me at [email protected]