An astounding 68 percent of Americans do not have a last will and testament in place. It’s an oversight or conscious decision that leaves millions of loved ones in a vulnerable position.
In the following article, we hope to turn the tide by showing you how easy it can be. Let’s begin!
1. Get Started
The first step in estate planning of any kind is to simply get started. Create a working document that you will label, in this case, “last will and testament.”
Borrow from the boilerplate of other last wills and testaments that you see online. How you phrase it is ultimately up to you, but let your introductory paragraph be an introduction to you.
“I, Bill Smith, do hereby swear on this Fourth of July that the following represents my last will and testament.” You get the point.
2. Choose the Appointees
There are two major appointees that you might need to make. One major appointee, for sure. The first is your executor.
The executor of an estate ensures that all your wishes are carried out appropriately and in keeping with state and national laws concerning wills and probate. Secondly, there is a guardian.
Of course, this appointee won’t be necessary if you have zero children. If you do have kids, however, they become the most important appointment you can make.
3. Select Your Beneficiaries
Before you meet with an estate planning attorney, select your beneficiaries. Set them up with the appropriate institution (life insurance companies and brokers on your retirement assets, as examples). These are the people you want possessing those assets in the event of your death or permanent incapacitation.
4. List the Assets
Also among what should you include in your will is a list of assets. This would involve everything from policies and accounts to personal possessions. Make it clear to whom each item should go in your last will and testament to avoid quarrels down the line.
5. Enlist Witnesses
No will and testament is complete without individuals willing to bear witness. Without witness signatures, it’s always possible for someone to argue your wishes on the grounds of an “updated” will. Witness signatures discourage this type of behavior.
6. Protect the Final Document
After your assets are listed, beneficiaries are in place, and document is signed, it’s time for the last step. Document protection!
This is a document that requires a safer place than your filing cabinet at home. If you have a safe, that’s a good start. You’ll probably want to do an off-site safety deposit box or leave it in the care of your attorney for added security.
For more on estate planning attorney services and how they can help, connect with someone who actually provides these services on a daily basis.
Your Last Will and Testament Is Binding
If you follow the steps we’ve listed above, enjoy your peace of mind. That’s because your last will and testament will be officially binding.
Those closest to you will never be placed in the situation of having to argue for what’s theirs when you’re no longer around to stand up for them. For more legal articles and information, check out some of our additional posts!