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Who inherits the good silver is just the beginning


Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again. Student loan debt may put your financial security at risk. What a new AARP survey reveals. Writing a will isn't the most pleasant of tasks. After all, by doing so you're not only acknowledging your own inevitable demise but actively planning for it. That might explain why so many adults avoid this cornerstone of estate planning.

But creating a will is one of the most critical things you can do for your loved ones. Putting your wishes on paper helps your heirs avoid unnecessary hassles, and you gain the peace of mind knowing that a life's worth of possessions will end up in the right hands. The laws governing wills vary from state to state. If you aren't familiar with them, consider consulting a knowledgeable lawyer or estate planner in your area. Before you do, brush up on these 10 things you should know about writing a will.

What is a will? A will is simply a legal document in which you, the testator , declare who will manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist of big, expensive things such as a vacation home but also small items that might hold sentimental value such as photographs. The person named in the will to manage your estate is called the executor because he or she executes your stated wishes. A will can also serve to declare who you wish to become the guardian for any minor children or dependents, and who you want to receive specific items that you own — Aunt Sally gets the silver, Cousin Billy the bone china, and so on.

Someone designated to receive any of your property is called a "beneficiary. Some types of property, including certain insurance policies and retirement accounts, generally aren't covered by wills. You should've listed beneficiaries when you took out the policies or opened the accounts. Check if you can't remember, and make sure you keep beneficiaries up to date, since what you have on file when you die should dictate who receives those assets.

If you die without a valid will, you'll become what's called intestate. That usually means your estate will be settled based on the laws of your state that outline who inherits what.

Probate is the legal process of transferring the property of a deceased person to the rightful heirs. Since no executor was named, a judge appoints an administrator to serve in that capacity.

An administrator also will be named if a will is deemed to be invalid. All wills must meet certain standards such as being witnessed to be legally valid. Again, requirements vary from state to state.

An administrator will most likely be a stranger to you and your family, and he or she will be bound by the letter of the probate laws of your state. As such, an administrator may make decisions that wouldn't necessarily agree with your wishes or those of your heirs.

No, you aren't required to hire a lawyer to prepare your will, though an experienced lawyer can provide useful advice on estate-planning strategies such as living trusts. But as long as your will meets the legal requirements of your state, it's valid whether a lawyer drafted it or you wrote it yourself on the back of a napkin. Do-it-yourself will kits are widely available. Conduct an Internet search for "online wills" or "estate planning software" to find options, or check bookstores and libraries for will-writing guides.

Your state's departments of aging also might be able to direct you to free or low-cost resources for estate planning. And while you're working on your will, you should think about preparing other essential estate-planning documents.

It comes from having a degree, most often a graduate degree, and having a passion for scholarly academic writing, along with a strong mission to help students. These writers are committed to engaging in as much conversation with a customer as possible, in order to fully understand what that customer wants. Graduate students will receive Ph. No, we want all of the details that your instructor or professor has given.

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If you don't have a Social Security number, provide a different form of ID, such as a driver's license or state ID number. You may also include your date of birth to further identify yourself. Make the required declaration. The first sentence of your will should introduce the document as your last will and testament. Nullify all previous wills. This type of provision will ensure that any previous wills that you may have written are no longer valid. To do this you can write: Declare your mental wellbeing.

Wills are often challenged on the ground that the testator the person who's will it is was not of sound mind when he or she executed it. Therefore, you should always include a statement that proves your soundness of mind.

Most often it is argued that a testator had dementia or another sickness that prevented him or her from understanding the effects of the will. Include a statement of your intent to create the will. All dispositions made in your will must be made according to your wishes.

This means you cannot have anyone influence your decisions in any way. To ensure the court knows you intended all the gifts you made, you should include a statement that looks like this: Write provisions that carry out your wishes. When you get to the body of your will, you will include all of your distributions. Write provisions that carry out your ideas you created when you prepared your will. This includes who will get certain assets, who will get certain percentages of your estate, and who will get certain conditional gifts.

This person will ensure that your will is followed. Because executors are so frequently asked to handle assets in a professional manner, you should try to select an individual with a background in business or law.

If this Executor is unable or unwilling to serve, then I appoint [backup executor's first and last name] as alternate Executor. Sign your will in the presence of witnesses.

Each state has rules about signing a will. In general, you will need to sign and date your will after it has been completed and after you have acknowledged its accuracy. In addition, you will have to sign the document in front of two witnesses who will have to sign a statement attesting to your legal capacity to enter into the agreement.

Store the will safely. Your will is not filed with the courts until after your death. If the will is destroyed or cannot be found, it can't be filed. Make sure that you store the will somewhere that can be found after your death. Consider storing your will in a safe at your home or in a safety deposit box at your bank. Many people give their wills to an attorney for safekeeping. Provide a copy to your executor.

If you trust your executor, you should consider giving them a copy to hold onto in addition to keeping the original somewhere safe. Do not edit your will once it has been signed. The will you sign and witnesses attest to may not be valid if you change the provisions after it has been signed. For starters, the witnesses signed and attested to the fact that you signed the original will, not the will as it is edited.

Also, an edited will may create ambiguities that the court will be responsible for figuring out. If you want your wishes to be carried out effectively, you should not edit your will after it has been signed. Use a codicil for minor changes. A codicil is a document that refers to your original will and states that you are making changes to that original will.


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Most people know they need one, but aren’t sure how to write a will. The first decision you’ll need to make is whether to write your will yourself. Most people can write a simple will without a lawyer, but some situations require professional help.

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Writing your own will is a relatively straightforward process if your assets and bequests are also straightforward. In these circumstances, as long as you comply with the laws of your state, your will is likely to stand up in a court of law and be executed according to your wishes.

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Apr 30,  · Expert Reviewed. How to Write Your Own Last Will and Testament. Five Parts: Writing Your Will Bequeathing Your Assets Finalizing Your Will Making Changes to Your Will Storing Your Will Community Q&A A last will and testament is a legal document that dictates what happens to your possessions and assets once you pass away%(K). 1. Decide if you want to get help or use a do-it-yourself software program. Consider either using an attorney or a reputable online software to help you write your will, rather than opting for a.

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Aug 17,  · Expert Reviewed. How to Write a Will. Five Parts: Sample Forms Preparing Your Will Writing Your Will Finalizing Your Will Changing Your Will Community Q&A A will is something that most people don't want to think about, especially when they're young. In fact, the typical person does not consider making out a will until he or she is almost fifty%(57). Your kids probably won't need guardians named in a will after they're adults, for example, but you might still need to name guardians for disabled dependents. A rule of thumb: Review your will every two or three years to be safe.