Advice on Your Last Will and Testament

With electronic signature and efficient legal services, writing up your last will and testament has never been simpler. But, there are a few rules to drafting your will that should not be overlooked.

LEGALITIES

It’s rare to hear a trustworthy advisor tell you to draw up your last will and testament by yourself. Although they are quite complex, the proper legal documents will help everything run smoothly and give those you left behind some sense of peace after you’re gone.

Don’t Try This At Home

Obviously, lawyers cost a ton of money. Many people try to keep more money in their actual wills and legacies by trying to write their own last testament, but this isn’t a wise move. The one-time expense of having a skilled attorney draw up your documents is almost guaranteed to save you money in the long run. Oftentimes, lawyers reap much larger profits from correcting bad drafts and dealing with legal battles caused by unclear language than from drawing up your last will and testament.

John Hancock

Online signatures have made drafting legal documents a great deal more efficient and affordable, but never forget to have witnesses for your signing. No final testament is valid without a minimum of two independent witnesses, so make sure you read the fine print carefully on web services that offer rapid-fire wills. Also bear in mind that for a witness to be considered legitimate, they can’t be mentioned in your will or even married to anybody that is.

FAMILY TIES

Your legacy to your family and friends is too important to only give a passing thought to.

Narrow it Down

It goes without saying that you want more than just your money to be passed on to your survivors. That’s why if there’s any possession you want to be inherited by someone in particular, it needs to be named as a specific legacy to a certain person. Think of your will as a catalog of everything you own. Keep an organized list of everything you want to be passed along and to whom exactly you want it to go. Being specific can save a lot of heartache when you’re gone by keeping your family from arguing over who gets to keep what.

Executive Director

An executor is a person you chose to make sure the acting out of your will goes smoothly when you’re gone. This is an extremely important choice and not one to make lightly. Don’t just give the job to a friend or a family member, especially if you’re not on good terms with them or feel like you don’t know them well enough. Your will deals with large amounts of money and possessions with both monetary and sentimental value and should be handled by someone you trust completely. Most people choose a spouse or a child to act as executor, but make sure you don’t leave it all to one person. Always choose a substitute executor in case the worst should happen to your first choice.

Trust Me

Talk to your lawyer about setting up a trust for your family instead of a direct inheritance. Legacies are taxed heavily, sometimes costing more than the property is even worth. There are perfectly legal ways to secure as much benefit for your survivors as possible, which is another reason not to draw up your will on your own.

BURIED TREASURE

Your will is a precious document and needs to be protected as such, but only in the right way.

Lock and Key

In addition to a PDF copy, keep your will safe in a secure location. Some people prefer to keep them nearby in a home safe, which are nearly invincible against damage done to your house like fires or other natural disasters. Don’t rule out a safe deposit box or a similar third party service that can issue certificates to your executors to collect it when you’re gone. But, don’t go the paranoia route either and make it impossible to find. The entire point of leaving a will is to help your loved ones, which won’t happen if no one can find it.

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About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finance. With over 20 years of business experience, Robert is now retired and hopes others can benefit from his writing.

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