how to make a will
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How To Make A Will Legally? What Are The Requisites?

| January 10, 2024

Today we talk about a very common question on our minds- How to make a will. Following your death, a will directs significant aspects like property distribution, selecting an executor, caring for minors, and settling debts and taxes in your estate. 

However, for this, you will have to have a will. If you don’t the court and law will take matters into their hands.

Many hire a lawyer on retainer to take care of their will and update it from time to time. But how do you make a will? What are the requirements? How to make a will legally? 

What are the benefits of making a will online? Well, we have got you covered. In this article, we will answer all your questions.

Basic Checklist For You To Consider Before You Make A Will

If you want to know how to make a will, let us find out more about them.                                           

To create a legal will in the USA, these are the pre-requisites. Only if you check out these boxes can you move forward with making a will.

– Ensure you’re at least 18 years old and mentally sound.

– You will need to draft and sign your will before witnesses.

Additionally, in some states, you may need to have a notary public present.

– You need to clearly state your personal details and your intentions in the will. Thus, you may want to start by jotting down how you want your belongings distributed.

– Decide which assets are included and who inherits them. You can take the help of your lawyer to understand the legal steps to do this.

– Select an executor to manage your estate.

Choose a guardian for your children, if any.

Finally, they appoint someone to oversee their assets. 

What Can You Include In Your Will?

How to make a will? Well, before we find that out, let us know what we can include in our wills. You have the flexibility to include various assets in your will according to US requirements. Here are examples:

Funds for Debts

These cover expenses like funeral costs, probate, and medical bills.

Real Estate, Including Your Home

Thus, you will have to specify who inherits your property, especially if it’s a shared residence.

Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds

Moreover, this will include outside retirement accounts. You can also divide or allocate these among beneficiaries.

Business Ownership

You can address your business’s future management and ownership in your will.

Cash

Thus, this may include funds from savings, checking, or money market accounts.

Tangible Possessions

You can specify distribution of items like furniture, jewelry, vehicles, etc.

Intangible Assets

These cover business shares, intellectual property like patents, royalties, and copyrights.

However, you must remember that this list does not include all that you can include in a will. For that, you need to consult a lawyer to ensure your will aligns legally with your assets and wishes.

So, How To Make A Will?

Firstly, be sure to begin by listing your significant assets to initiate the process. Then, decide which items will be left by other methods, outside your will. For instance, if you have a beneficiary for your retirement account or bank account. 

Additionally, you may want to exclude certain assets from probate. Remember, if you’re married, each spouse creates a separate will. In the case of jointly owned assets, you can only allocate your share through your will.

Recipients In A Will

Decide on property recipients, but be cautious if excluding your spouse or children. After making initial choices, select alternative beneficiaries in case the first ones are unavailable.

  • Additionally, you need to choose an executor to manage your estate. The executor follows your will’s instructions.
  • Thus, they will be handling asset distribution, debt payments, and taxes during probate.
  • Your chosen person doesn’t require specific training. However, they can hire professionals if there is a need.
  • You also need to ensure the selected individual is willing to serve and won’t back off from the responsibility.
  • Choose a guardian for your children if they’re minors, in case both parents can’t care for them.

Lastly, select someone to manage their property. Designate an adult to oversee any inheritance for kids or young adults. Additionally, you can grant them authority as property guardians and custodians under the Uniform Transfers to Minors. Moreover, you can also use a trustee.

How To Make A Will Online Or Without A Lawyer?

If you are wondering How to make a will without a lawyer, we have some additional steps for you.

Did you know that you can make your will in different ways?

Hire a lawyer for personalized legal advice, if needed and affordable.

Use a standard form available in some states like California, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. These forms are simple and familiar to probate courts but may lack flexibility.

DIY Wills

Create your will using do-it-yourself software or services like an online Will Maker. It’s cost-effective and suitable for uncomplicated estates. However, remember that complex situations may require legal assistance.

Witnesses In Wills

Sign your will in front of at least two witnesses. If you’re using a “self-proving affidavit” with your will to simplify probate court procedures, a notarized signature is necessary

Where To Keep Your Will?

Remember to store your will securely so that your loved ones find it after your death. Keep it in a labeled, safe place and inform your executor about its location.

However, it’s best to store it with other vital documents in a file cabinet or desk drawer, making it accessible to your family. Remember, lockbox isn’t mandatory and might delay the probate process.

Can Anyone Challenge A Will?

Yes, even after you make the will, someone can challenge it before its execution. Thus, if there is fraud, or suspicions that you made the will undue influence, a person can challenge it. These elements suggest the testator was under pressure while making the will.

Missing signatures or lack of the maker’s knowledge can also lead to a challenge.

To Conclude

Thus, with this, we come to the end of our article on how to make a will. If your finances are simple, you can create a will without a lawyer. A will shows how your things should be shared after you pass away and picks a guardian for your kids. 

You can use online tools or software to write your will. However, to make it official, sign and date it with two witnesses. So, if you are worried about how much does it cost to make a will, online options are way cheaper.

Online will makers offer kits and templates for wills, trusts, and other planning tools. Some even have real lawyers you can talk to. However, they might not be the best for big or complicated estates.

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Debkanya Bhattacharya
Debkanya Bhattacharya

Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.

COMMENTS (1)

  1. I find it convenient that a will could help someone prepare for their eventual asset transfer after their death. I have a colleague who wants to ensure that his uncle can support his daughter even when something happens to him. I should share this information with him so we can find a legal expert who can set this up! https://www.cescobarlaw.com/

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