Many people say they never wrote a will because they didn’t know how to write a will or where to begin. Writing a will is an essential part of estate planning. It is important because it ensures that your wishes are followed after your death. By creating a will, you can specify who should inherit your assets, and this can include anything from property to sentimental belongings. A will can also help simplify the legal process for your loved ones, making it easier for them to distribute your assets according to your wishes.
10 Steps to Writing a Will
Here is a step-by-step guide to learn how to write a will:
Step 1: Make a List of Your Beneficiaries
Make a list of everyone you want to provide for in your will. If you die without one, your assets will be divided among your surviving spouse and closest legal relatives by state laws. However, with a will, you have the freedom to include stepchildren, godchildren, charities, friends, and other distant relatives.
Step 2: List Your Assets
Make a master list of all your assets, including investments, family heirlooms, retirement accounts, life insurance, and digital assets. Work with an estate planning attorney to decide which assets will pass automatically and which ones need to be included in your will.
Step 3: Designate a Personal Representative
Select someone to carry out the probate process and handle all your estate’s affairs. It is best to choose someone who has the practical and financial ability to manage your estate, work with your creditors, and take care of your family.
Step 4: Name a Guardian for Your Children
If you have minor children, designate a guardian to care for them if you and your spouse or co-parent are unable to do so.
Step 5: Specify Who Should Receive Which Assets
Describe each gift as specifically as possible. Use full legal names of heirs, award fixed dollar amounts, or percentages of bank accounts. Make a list of personal property items and number them with tags or stickers.
Step 6: Make a List of Your Digital Assets
This includes any online accounts such as social media, email, and banking accounts, as well as any digital files such as photos or documents stored on your computer or in the cloud. With this list, your executor will be able to locate and manage your digital assets according to your wishes. Some online will-making programs also include the option to list your digital assets, making the process even easier.
Step 7: Prepare for the Unexpected
Be prepared for changes in circumstances. Identify alternative or subsequent heirs, personal representatives, and guardians who can fill any gaps left in your estate plan.
Step 8: Sign Your Will
To be valid, a will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who also sign it in the presence of both the testator and each other. To be self-proving, the testator and witnesses must sign in front of a notary.
Step 9: Discuss Your Will With Your Family
Let your family know about your will so that they are aware of your intentions. By being clear about your decisions, you reduce the chances of them contesting the will during the probate process.
Step 10: Keep Your Will Up to Date
Make sure to review and update your will regularly as your circumstances change. Life events such as marriage, divorce, having a child, or acquiring new assets can all impact how you want to distribute your assets after you pass away. In Florida, you can amend your will with a codicil or create a new will. Remember, failing to update your will could cause confusion, disputes, and unnecessary expenses for your loved ones.
Consider Using an Online Will Program
It’s worth noting that nowadays, many people use online programs to write their wills. These programs offer a convenient and cost-effective way to create a will without the need for a lawyer. They typically guide you through the various sections of a will in a step-by-step process and allow you to customize it based on your specific circumstances.
Online will-writing programs also provide a level of privacy that you may not get when working with a lawyer. You can work on your will from the comfort of your own home without the need to share your personal information with anyone.
Why Write a Will Online?
Here are 3 main reasons why you should write your will online:
Legal and Easy to Understand
Learning how to write a will online is easy. These programs are designed to guide you through the process at your own pace. Each page is written in simple terms so that you are not overwhelmed by legal terminology.
Navigate the Process with Ease
With online will programs, you can navigate the process at your own pace and on your own schedule. You can take your time to carefully assess all of your assets, as well as who you choose as beneficiaries. You can choose a guardian for your minor child, assign your digital assets, and choose your primary and secondary executors.
In addition to the convenience and accessibility of online will programs, there are other benefits to consider. For example, creating a will online can be a cost-effective option compared to hiring an attorney. While the cost of an online will program may vary, it is often much more affordable than hiring an attorney to draft a will for you.
Update Life Changes
If you have a life change, rather than pay an attorney, you can simply log in to your online will program and rewrite your will at your convenience. This can be a huge financial burden lifted, as attorney fees can be expensive.
Most Comprehensive Free Online Will Program: The U.S. Will Registry
The U.S. Will Registry is a comprehensive online program that offers a variety of tools and features to help ensure that your last wishes are respected and executed. From the free online will creator to the option for free will registration and partnerships for secure free iCloud storage. The U.S. Will Registry which can help ensure that your will is created and easily discoverable by your loved ones. This can be particularly helpful if your will is stored in a physical location that may be difficult to locate or access.
Wills Simplify the Probate Process
Moreover, creating a will online can also help simplify the probate process for your loved ones. Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone passes away. Probate is the process of to distribution of assets according to a will or state law. By having a clear and legally-binding will in place, you can help minimize the stress and complexity of probate for your family and beneficiaries.
When are Online Will Programs not Recommended?
It is also important to keep in mind that online will programs may not be suitable for everyone. For individuals with complex estates or unique circumstances, such as business ownership or international assets, consulting with an attorney may be the best option. It’s worth noting that some people may choose to use a free online will program to gather their thoughts and ideas about creating a will. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these programs may not cover all the necessary legal requirements or specific circumstances unique to your situation. In these cases, it’s recommended that you consult with an attorney who can review your will and ensure that it meets all of your final wishes and legal obligations.
Have an Attorney Review Your Will
Online will programs suggest seeking attorney review if you feel uncertain that your wishes are clear or meeting state standards. It provides reassurance and ensures legal soundness.
Creating a will is the best way to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.