Writing A Legally Recognized Will: What You Need To Know

author/source: Mary Dolan

Photo Courtesy of  Pexels 10485423Everyone needs to make a will so their life is organized how they wish in the event of their death. Having your wishes legally recognized is something that is made much easier with a will that has been drawn up correctly.

Around half the people in the US who die have no will, and if you have an estate that will be left behind, this can lead to complications for loved ones left behind as they try to move forward without you. Leaving a will not only makes things easier on them, but it can also give you peace of mind.

This post looks at how you can make your will legal.

Sound Mind

To write a will, you must be over 18, have something to leave others, and be of sound mind. For people experiencing health conditions that will affect this, such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia, will need to have medical authority to prove they are of sound mind when the will is being drawn up, and it needs to be witnessed, signed, and notarized during any lucid periods.

Witnessed & Notarized

You will need to be witnessed by at least two other impartial people who will then need to sign the document to prove you wrote it and that they agree to this notion. You should then get your will notarized as this will add an extra layer of security should the will be contested after your death.

You’re Not Being Pressurized

As important as it is to ensure you are of sound mind when writing your will, you also need to prove you aren’t being pressured either. This means that no one else is coercing you to include them or change your will to leave them everything. This can be an abusive partner, a new partner who is love bombing you or has nefarious intentions towards you, a pushy family member who is demanding they are left everything, or anyone else trying to exert control over you. Of course, if your loved ones feel this is the case, they can contest the will even if you deny it.

Legal Implications

Leaving your estate to others can be tricky; as such, it is always worth consulting with an estate agent to get your wishes carried out in the best possible way for your loved ones. From choosing the proper trust fund for leaving money or assets to those under 18s, obtaining an estate tax id number to protecting what you have worked hard for so it goes to the right places and no one contests the will.

Check The Details

Whether you are getting a lawyer to draw up your will or making a DIY will, you need to ensure that everything on it is legally binding to the words you are using.

If you are writing it yourself, you can find plenty of templates online to help you get the correct wording and phrases. Make sure it is clearly stated that this is your last will and testament, it has your full legal name, and that you are of sound mind and are not pressured to write this will.

You will also need a guardian if you have children under 18 and a physical and financial assets list. You then need to choose who gets your assets, how much they get, and any beneficiaries to get. Make sure to include their EIN if they have one, too, to make things easier.

Will Executor

You can also make a decision about who will execute your will and who will read it. They will handle all of your probate process and oversee the distribution of assets as per your will. This person will be there for any issues, will contests, or legal complications after your death.

Appoint A Residuary Beneficiary

A residuary beneficiary gets anything that isn't claimed or accounted for in the will, i.e., if you forget to update your choice to account for life changes or a difference in assets not included. This can be a specific person, a charity, your pet, or anything else; it doesn't have to be one person.

Store It And Make A Copy

Lastly, it can be a good idea to make copies of the will so nothing can be forged or altered, and you have proof of you signing or writing the will in photographic or video form. This can be an extra level of protection for everyone involved and avoid false content or claims that go against your wishes, especially if you have complex family dynamics or have removed or excluded people from your will. Store it safely so no one can access or change it.

You shouldn't put off writing a will until later; not everyone always has a “later.” Sit down, look at what you must leave, and ensure you are confident that the right thing happens for your loved ones once you are no longer here.