Some unfortunate incidents are unforeseen, like being involved in an accident, becoming incapacitated or falling chronically ill. However, some aspects of life, like death, are inevitable. In the event of an unexpected death, it would come in handy to have a will prepared. A will lists how your assets and property are to be distributed after death – and to whom – and also appoints someone to carry it out for you.
Steps to Writing a Will
If you would like to begin drafting your own will, use a word processor to type out the specifics. There are five major parts to writing a will that include:
- The Introduction – Title your will, “Last Will and Testament”, and include your full name, address, social security number and birth date for identification. You should include in writing that you are over 18 years of age and “are of sound mind and are not writing the will under duress.” State that this is your last will and anything that came before it is automatically revoked.
- Selecting the Executor – The executor will carry out the wishes of your will for you. This can be a spouse or a trusted friend. Before choosing an executor, make sure they are willing to take on the responsibility. You should also list an alternate executor.
- Identifying Your Heirs – Primary beneficiaries of a will are usually the spouse or partner and children. If you’d like to include other beneficiaries, clearly identify them.
- Naming Guardians of Children – Minors or dependent children can have another parent or person listed as their legal guardian until they reach age of majority.
- Dividing Assets and Property – List all of your assets such as family heirlooms, homes, vehicles, bank accounts, stocks, personal belongings and any other tangible assets. You can specify what percentage of your estate you want your heirs to receive and what non-heirs will receive.
Drafting a Valid Document
There are conditions that you must follow to make your will legally valid. You must be 18 years of age or older and must be mentally competent to write one. The will must clearly state how you want your property to be distributed and must identify the document as your final word. The will must be written and signed; a person may be excused from signing if illness, an accident or illiteracy prevents it. Someone can sign for them in their presence instead. Lastly, the will must be signed by two competent adults who can testify in court if need be.
Why it’s Important to Have a Will
It’s important for everyone to have a will, even those who are unmarried. A will gives you control over the distribution of property and assets after your death by assigning an executor to take care of this for you. If you have children, and they do not have another parent with whom they can live with, they will be taken care of by someone of your choosing.
If you do not have a written will, a probate court will take care of appointing someone to distribute your property and assets for you according to your state’s laws. Keep in mind, however, that this is an expensive process and fees will be paid out of your estate before anything is distributed.
We Can Guide You
Once you have a properly drafted will, our probate attorneys in McAllen can revise it and help you clear up any ambiguous details to avoid someone finding any loopholes in the future. We can also help you draft one from scratch. If you’d like further information about wills and trusts, call 956.287.7555 to schedule a free consultation.