How To Write a Simple Will

A simple will, also called a “basic will,” sets out what you want to happen to your assets after your death. If you’re worried about who will get a wedding ring, inherit your home, or take care of your cat after you pass away, it might be time to create a will — or update an existing one.

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  • If you don’t want your state to decide what will happen to your assets after your death, you should have a will.
  • Perhaps the stress of creating your will is not as bad as the pressure your loved ones would experience if you didn’t create it.
  • A simple will can solve a lot of problems, but it is best for people with simple financial and family situations.
  • People with more complex situations may want to consult an attorney about trusts and other estate planning tools.

What is the simple commandment?

A simple commandment that says what you want to happen to your things when you die. Your items could include everything from your great-grandmother’s cuckoo clock to teens’ diaries to your car, home, and bank accounts. You may be surprised to learn that your pets are considered property, so you will need to leave them to someone to ensure their care.

As its name suggests, simple will is best for people with simple situations. You may need credit, and possibly a permanent life insurance policy, if you have a lot of assets, have assets in multiple states, get divorced or remarried, have foster children, or own a business, to name a few.

What makes a simple will valid?

Besides not wanting to think about death and not knowing where to begin, the fear of making a will that won’t hold up after they’re gone may be one of the biggest reasons people delay creating their last will. One of the most important things to know is that the requirements for making Simplicity valid depend on the state in which you reside.

Generally you must be at least 18 years old, create a will when you are of sound mind and not under duress, write your will in writing, and sign it. You will usually need two or three adults to watch you sign your will, and then sign it themselves as witnesses. In some cases, you may need to have a notary public as a witness.

Information to include in a simple will

A simple will must state your full name and address, be dated and have your signature. It should state that you understand the document you are signing and that no one is pressuring you to sign it. It should also state that any previous wills you created are invalid and have been superseded by this new one.

You will name a personal representative, often called an “executor”, to carry out your wishes. You will also name an alternative in case your first option cannot be served. If you have minor children, you will name those you want to become their legal guardians and include alternates.

Do not surprise executors or guardians

Being a custodian of someone’s will is a huge responsibility and becoming a custodian of a child is even more so. Ideally, you will discuss your desires with the people you want to identify. Make sure they’re willing to accept their roles before you name them in your will. Your will can also offer compensation to these people if they have to intervene.

Next, you will name the beneficiaries and alternates to receive specific assets. Identify them by their full name, current address, and relationship to you, then describe in detail what you will leave them with.

Account Beneficiaries vs Beneficiaries

Many assets, such as a life insurance policy, retirement account, or bank account, allow you to name a beneficiary or beneficiaries (and their replacements) to receive your property almost immediately after your death. Transfer assignments upon death keep these assets out of probate court, allowing your heirs to obtain them quickly and without court fees.

However, be warned: these designations take precedence over what you write in your will. If your will left your savings account to your daughter, but your savings account names your ex-husband as the beneficiary, your ex will get the money.

You may also want to include instructions that authorize your personal representative to take certain financial actions to settle your property, such as paying debts, paying taxes, hiring a lawyer or accountant to help, and selling investments.

Make things official

Once you’ve drafted your will, it’s time to make it official. Sign it in front of any witnesses required by your state. This could be two or three disinterested parties who will not inherit anything from you, a notary, or both.

Make copies of your will, and store the original in a safe place where your executor can access it when needed. Tell them where to store it.

Finally, be sure to reconsider your will every few years or after a major life change. If it no longer reflects your desires, find the best way to update it, which could mean bringing it back.

Pets are not humans…

…they are better. But seriously, do not forget to provide the necessary for your pets. Leave them to someone you trust to take good care of them or find a loving new home. Also consider leaving this person with enough money to care for your pet, especially if your companion needs a special diet, medication, or frequent veterinary care. Even if you have pet insurance, the policy may not pass to a new owner.

You cannot leave money to your pets, because the law treats them as property. Although your cat may have made the occasional purchase by stomping on the keyboard at the wrong time, it’s possible that she doesn’t actually know how to order her food.

Do I need a will?

Yes, for your peace of mind and to make life easier for your loved ones that you leave behind, you must have a will. It becomes extremely important if you have dependents. If you do not have dependents or significant assets, you may not need a will. With it, set up beneficiary assignments on your accounts.

Simple how much?

A simple will that you write yourself, create with a free online form, no documentation required, it won’t cost you anything to create it. If you fear making a mistake that makes your will unclear or invalid — or if you feel overwhelmed or overwhelmed with the process (which is perfectly normal) — consider upgrading to a paid option.

Many online services will guide you through the process of creating a Will specific to your situation and circumstances. Some can even help you determine if a simple will is the best document for your needs. The cost generally ranges between $50 and $200.

For notarizing your will, your bank may offer free notary services; You can also find inexpensive notaries at UPS stores, as well as mobile notaries who will come to your home. They will not review your will or tell you whether it will hold up in court; Their only job is to verify your identity, see your signature, and record the transaction in their notary book.

The cost of hiring an attorney to prepare your will can generally be anywhere between $300 and $1,200, depending on the running rate in your area, the attorney’s experience, and the complexity of your situation.

Many people are afraid of the idea of ​​hiring a lawyer. Concerns include not knowing how to find someone you can trust and assuming you won’t be able to afford them. The state bar association is a good place to start your search.

A small but intriguing study of the wills of Alameda and San Francisco County by UCSD law professor David Horton found that wills drawn up by an attorney may be less likely to be challenged in court; Homemade and holographic wills were more likely to be challenged.

What happens if you die without a will?

If you died without a will, trust, or other legal document that explains what should happen to your estate upon your death, you are said to have died without a will, and the laws of your state will determine how the probate court will allocate your assets. Even if you died of a valid will, the probate court in your state will oversee the distribution of your assets. This process can be relatively simple or take months, depending on your condition and the complexity of your situation. The court charges a probate fee for its service.

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Don’t be afraid to process your will. Pick a day, put it on your calendar, and get it done. It won’t be as bad as you think.

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