Writing A Will

What Is a Will?

A will  is a document that spells out what should happen to your assets after you die. It also designates guardianship of your children , so even if you don’t own property or have a bunch of assets, it’s a good idea to have a will. There are a couple of basic options for creating one:

Do It Yourself

If your situation is simple, you can write your own will using templates online.

These tools will ask you questions about who gets your assets, how you’d like to be buried, and any final wishes you might have.

Retaining an Attorney

There are some drawbacks to the DIY route.  These are better than having no will at all and can be good for thinking about estate planning, but there are problems inherent with all of the DIY products if you have anything but very simple will-making needs. Some specific tax and trust issues can’t be handled by the software. If you want to make sure your will is as comprehensive as can be, your best bet is to consult a lawyer.

What to Expect

Whether you DIY or go with an expert, putting together a will involves a few simple steps:

Pick an executor: This is the person who handles your property, assets, and everything else after you die. You want this person to be someone you trust to handle your affairs.

Designate beneficiaries: The people who will inherit your assets are called beneficiaries, and you want to designate them for everything you own.

If there’s someone in your family you want to make sure doesn’t receive anything, experts say you should detail that, too.

Choose a guardian: If you have children, you’ll also designate who you want to have guardianship when you die. That person does not legally have to accept guardianship, and if they don’t, the court will choose a new guardian.

Get witnesses to sign your will: Finally, in order for your will to be legally binding, you need witnesses. A notary might be the best person for this, although it’s not required.