In the past, many people thought that wills are only for the rich. But today, anyone can write a will as long as they are of legal age. Death is scary, and preparing a last will terrifies most people due to its finality. Since it strikes when you least expect, you need to create an estate plan early in life to avoid chaos after you pass on. While no one is ever prepared for the death of a loved one, a last will can make life more comfortable. A last will and testament guarantees that all your final desires are fulfilled and that your beneficiaries receive what is rightfully theirs as per your wishes.
This document facilitates the proper allocation of all your assets, bank accounts, and business longevity when you pass on. It prevents intruders from claiming your estate fraudulently. The testator (will creator) must usually have two witnesses and a legal representative for the document to be considered valid in court. A last will differs from a living will since it takes effect after the testator dies.
You must be over 18 years, in most states, to create a last will and testament. However, Georgia permits it from 14 years old. In other exceptional circumstances, for example, if you are an emancipated minor, you can write your will at a younger age. A testator must be of sound mind and not be under any pressure from anyone during the will creation for it to be deemed valid.
A will cushions your dependents from conflicts that may arise from greedy beneficiaries. It is imperative to have a last will to ensure your property goes to your heirs unopposed. Strangers will not come to claim your wealth posing as relatives or business partners because this legal document prevents any unauthorized claims.
The following guide is not legal advice, so please check your state laws because the distribution of your belongings can vary depending on your marital status. Estate planning is crucial, so knowing relevant laws, probate court proceedings, and all the required documents can make a big difference.
Writing a Last Will and Testament
Composing a will lies at your discretion since it is a serious step determining how your chosen dependents get to inherit your wealth. Estate planning documents are crucial after death to ensure your legacy continues through family and close friends.
Death is unpredictable and can leave your family struggling financially, especially if you were the sole provider. But if you can allocate your spouse and children your wealth, life will continue normally. Moreover, putting up a trust fund guarantees your children get their education without third party interference.
Follow the steps below to create a last will.
1. Appoint an Executor
The first step is to appoint an executor, the person who will carry out all your requests when you pass on. Select a trusted individual with a dependable reputation, such as a family member or a close friend.
Since life is so unpredictable, it is in good faith that you choose a substitute executor who can take over the responsibilities if the main one cannot execute the last will and testament due to sickness or mental incapacity.
Furthermore, the executioner gets a percentage from the estate’s earnings as payment. The executioner of the last will is obligated to fulfill every word on the form.
2. Select Guardians
When underage children are involved, the surviving spouse will automatically be chosen as the sole guardian. But if he or she cannot care for the minor children, you must select a trusted guardian to take responsibility until the kids are of age. You can set aside money for their education and upkeep and allocate part of your estate as an inheritance that the latter can access once they reach legal age.
Also, a last will and testament allows you to select someone to care for your pet animals.
3. Name Beneficiaries
The form must capture all your assets and a list of dependents that you want to allocate your property. You need to identify all the people that you want to include in your last will and testament. Make sure that you indicate the percentage of wealth clearly in the will. Whether it is a relative or any other person, the testator can decide the beneficiaries. It can even be your local church, a children’s home, a learning institution, or a charity.
When you have your list of beneficiaries ready, you can now embark on compiling all your assets. These may range from real estate properties to liquid money in the bank account or online money provider accounts and other valuables.
Then, make a list of all the beneficiaries and the property allocated to each in detail after your death. Make sure that you capture the full names and addresses of your beneficiaries and provide clear identifying information to avoid confusion. Some might even indicate the last four digits of the social security number, but it is not mandatory.
If you have any pending debts, your estate proceeds would first be used to settle the debt collectors before estate distribution commences. Also, any pending tax fees can be settled using your estate.
It is critical to note that all your estate assets should prove that you are the sole owner since joint property ownership cannot be included in your last will and testament. Thus, do not list them in your testament form.
4. State Your Funeral Requests
It is courteous not to leave the burden of your funeral expenses to your family members. Many free last will and testament documents have an avenue where you can state your funeral wishes. All the burial arrangements can be captured in the will. For instance, the venue, the cost, and how you want your last send-off to be, whether you want to be buried or cremated, etc. Also, you need to state whether the estate’s proceeds will cater for the expenses.
5. Choose Witnesses
Finally, you need two witnesses as part of the process to make the form valid.
However, the number of witnesses depends on the state you reside in. But, they usually must be neutral parties not related to the testator to avoid conflict of interest. The witnesses must generally be 18 years and above (as per your state legislation) with sound judgment. The finalized will must have the signatures of the testator, the two witnesses, and the legal representative (public notary is often optional, but it adds an additional layer of legal protection).
Who Needs To Write a Last Will?
Anyone who plans to have a family or already has one should write a last will to protect their loved ones. Preparing a will does not limit anyone, as long as you have valuables, property, or wealth under your name.
If you are an individual who loves traveling or living away from your ancestral home, you can write a last will to bequeath your property to your loved ones. Since death comes unpredictably, it is essential to be prepared before it is too late.
If you have acquired estates, bought a home, or invested in numerous projects, you can outline it in your will and how these assets will be distributed when you pass on. Whether you are a student or a career person, you can create a last will and testament. It is not limited to only wealthy people with vast estates. If you have any valuable assets, you can decide the inheritor through such a legal device as the will.
Consequences of Dying Without a Will
Many individuals pass away without a will causing their families to endure hardship and pain. Once you pass on, the state has the mandate to take over all your estate and determine the allocation. Although the state will prioritize your immediate family members, the percentage allocation may be different from your desires.
Do not jeopardize your kids’ educations since no one else will look after them with 100% care. The state will not assign the required inheritance like you would have wanted to. Moreover, other relatives may come into the picture and cause conflicts due to unreasonable claims for your estate.
The state has the mandate to distribute your estate and make big decisions without your control. Furthermore, your children may end up with irresponsible guardians who will not care about their welfare. In addition to that, your digital assets may be given to an unknown public trustee.
Online Last Will and Testament Creation
No time and resources to hire a law firm or an attorney for legal advice? We offer the most convenient way to complete your last will and testament online. You can access our site and download a last will and testament template at no cost. The templates are in PDF format, fillable, and printable within minutes. Why spend a fortune when you can create a will for free? You can fill in your particulars, like your assets and beneficiaries. Then, print the document and have it ready for signing in the presence of a legal officer.
Why stress yourself with seeking legal consultations? Instead of wasting your time searching for a law firm, you can proceed to our site and generate a high-quality last will. Forget the endless meetings with legal experts when you can concentrate on filling out a free template.
Moreover, you don’t have to worry about all the legal terminologies because our template is simple and easy to follow. Get a free last will document at your convenience. Prepare your will in confidence and secure your family’s interests before death strikes. Take care of your loved ones by protecting your estate from intruders.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can prepare a last will?
In most states, any individual of legal age, 18 years, and above and of sound mind can write a last will and testament.
Is it expensive to write a will?
It is not costly since you can avoid the process of hiring lawyers and complete your will using a free template on our site. It is simple and quite convenient.
As another alternative, you can try our inexpensive document builder based on answering simple questions to create a personalized document in minutes, download it in PDF format, and use it right away.
Can I amend my will?
Yes, you can alter your will by creating a codicil. You can remove a beneficiary or add a property. But if you want to change many things in your last will, it is better to draft a new one.