As upsetting as it may be, tomorrow is never a guarantee. That’s why it’s so important for all adults to have an estate plan, or at the very least, a will. While you can write a will on your own, drafting this important document with an experienced attorney from May, Rammell & Wells can help you ensure your last wishes are clear and legally binding. We’ll go over the basics here, but we encourage you to contact us for assistance.
You can call us anytime at (208) 623-8021 or reach out online for a quick response.
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document that indicates how you would like your possessions and assets distributed after you die. If you have minor children and/or pets, your will can also determine who will care for them when you’re gone.
10 Steps to Writing a Will
According to U.S. News & World Report, there are 10 steps to writing a will. These steps include:
- Deciding whether to do it yourself or hire a lawyer
- Selecting your beneficiaries
- Choosing an executor or trustee
- Picking a guardian for your minor children
- Specifying who gets what
- Outlining realistic expectations
- Attaching a letter to your will
- Securing witnesses and signatures
- Storing your will
- Reviewing and updating your will
Our firm can help you with each one of these steps, and a consultation can be the perfect way to get started. Even if you’re not sure about hiring a lawyer, May, Rammell & Wells would be happy to meet with you. In many cases, your attorney will help you draft your will from start to finish and may even become your executor – or the person who helps fulfill your stated intentions after you pass on.
Lawyers make good executors because they are familiar with the legal system and can guide your family through the often-complex process of probate.
Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Will
Some of the steps above, like selecting your beneficiaries and choosing a guardian for your children and pets, may be easier than others. If you’re ready to write your will, you probably have people in mind for these important choices. When you lay out your last wishes, however, you need to be very specific and acknowledge that there are certain things you cannot do in a will.
When writing a will, you should:
- Name your executor
- Name guardians for minor children and their property
- Make plans for outstanding debts and taxes
- Give instructions about your pets and their care
- Indicate other components of your estate plan
You should not:
- Put conditions on your gifts (for example, I leave my house to my daughter if she gets married)
- Establish advanced directives or other healthcare instructions
- Include instructions for your funeral and burial
- Leave assets to your pets
- Use your will as a trust or another estate-planning document
In many cases, your loved ones will not access your will until weeks after your death. This is one reason why having a full estate plan is so important. Another reason estate planning is crucial is that a will might not accomplish everything you want to communicate.
You should have separate documents for your end-of-life healthcare, your funeral arrangements, and any alternate arrangements for your assets and property. Having assistance from an attorney cannot only help you write and organize these documents but also help ensure the validity and effectiveness of all of them.
To be legal, for example, your will needs to be signed by yourself and 2 witnesses. You’ll also want your will to be stored safely and be accessible to your family after your passing. Your lawyer can keep a copy of your will and help you review and update it regularly, especially after life changes like marriages, divorces, or births in your family.
If you want to leave behind conditional gifts, trusts, and other special instructions, our attorneys can help.
For assistance with wills, estates, and trusts, please DO call May, Rammell & Wells at (208) 623-8021 today.