When most people think of creating a will, they usually think of aged multimillionaires dividing up their estates while a personal attorney and accountant offer advice from the sidelines. A thunderstorm may be happening in the background for added drama.
The truth is that writing a will doesn’t have to be a complicated process, and you don’t need to have millions of dollars or a massive estate for your family to benefit from your will. In fact, you can create a will in only seven steps.
Decide What Assets to Put in Your Will
The first step is pretty simple: figure out what assets you’ll put in your will. To do this, though, you’ll need to know what your assets are, first.
Make a list of all your bank accounts, investments and property. This should include your home, your vehicles, and any other pieces of real estate that you own. After that, list all the items you possess that are important to you, including family heirlooms and even pets if you have them.
If you’re not sure whether something is important enough to include it in your will, it’s best to err on the side of caution. The worst that can happen is that your next of kin collectively wonders why you would include that particular item in your will.
Figure Out Who Gets What
Once you know what items you’ll want to have in your will, it’s time to choose your beneficiaries—the people who will get your assets after you’re gone. The obvious beneficiaries for most people are their spouse and children, but you can choose whoever you want. Some potential beneficiaries might include your extended family, close friends and even charities you like.
Select Your Executor
Once you’ve figured out who will be receiving what, you’ll need to select an executor—the person who will be responsible for making sure the instructions in your will are followed. You can choose anyone you like to act as executor, but you should select someone who is responsible and ethical.
Many people opt to have an attorney act as executor for a fee, and pay them out of their estate’s funds. This can be the best choice in many situations, since family and friends will very likely still be grieving when the will is read. Attorneys are also less likely to be intimidated by family members.
Select Guardians for Your Children
If you’re creating a will while your children are still minors, you’ll have to think about who will take care of them after you’re gone. Selecting a guardian for your children is not an easy thing to think about, but it’s easily the most important decision you’ll make when drafting your will.
No matter who you select as your guardian, you’ll want to talk your decision over with them before you name them in your will. You’ll also want to make sure your guardians have the authority to access any insurance or savings accounts you have opened for your children so your guardians can use those accounts for their intended purpose.
Have an Attorney Review Your Will
Once you know what you want to put in your will, take it to an estate attorney and have them look it over. While you don’t actually need an attorney’s help to make a will, an attorney can make sure that your will is legally binding and will hold up in court. They might also be able to help you figure out how to manage your estate’s assets more effectively, such as by creating a trust.
Sign Your Will in Front of Witnesses
This might be the most important step in the will creating process. You need to sign and date your will in front of two witnesses to make it valid. These witnesses should be people that you know, but they cannot be someone who might inherit anything from your will.
You may also want to have your witnesses sign a “self-proving affidavit.” This is a legal document that is signed in front of a notary, and it states that they saw you sign the will, and that you signed it willingly and you were in your right mind when you did so. This serves as your witnesses’ testimony, which may save them from having to appear in court if your will is contested.
Keep Your Will Someplace Safe
Finally, keep your will, and any documents associated with the will, in a safe location. Many people buy a small fireproof, waterproof file box for this purpose, but you might also want to consider renting a safety deposit box at a financial institution.
In addition to your will and your witnesses’ self-proving affidavits, you’ll also want to make sure to include your bank account details and login information, your funeral instructions, your insurance policies and any other information you’ll want you family to have to make everything as easy for them as possible.
Protect Your Assets With First Alliance Credit Union
Creating a will doesn’t have to be hard, but you will want to think about what will happen with all your assets after you’re gone. You’ll also want to select a trustworthy executor, and you may even want to have an estate attorney review your will. Once you’re finished with your loan, make sure you store it in a safe place.
If you want to make sure your assets are protected, become a member of First Alliance Credit Union today. We offer several types of savings and retirement accounts to keep your assets secure, and we also offer safety deposit boxes where you can keep your will, as well as other important valuables.