How to Write a Will: 7 Steps You Must Know
As an individual earns and acquires assets, he/she needs to ensure smoother transaction to pass on his/her possessions to their loved and dependants. This is where a Will comes in; making a Will is vital and probably ranks as one of the most important things you’ll ever do. It is advisable that everyone with some assets or worldly wealth in their possession should prepare a Will as, without one, the financial future of your loved ones could be at risk owing to financial uncertainties, emotional turmoil or long drawn-out legal battles.
Although you do not need a lawyer to prepare a Will, as their fees can be enormous, it’s still advisable that you make use of some professional channels to assist in writing your Will.
Steps to keep in mind while writing a Will:
1. Select your beneficiaries
First and foremost, you need to chalk out a list of beneficiaries; a person or an organization you wish to leave your assets with after your demise. Name alternate beneficiaries as well, in case something were to happen to your first choice beneficiaries.
2. Choose the executor of your Will
Executors are individuals who are entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the assets mentioned in your Will are distributed according to the provisions of the Will. Always ensure that you choose a trusted person/s for this task as their responsibilities also include managing & valuing assets, handling legal issues, and completing tax forms. They must be explicitly named, with their address, in your Will. Further, while making a Will, it is imperative that you take prior consent with whomever you wish to appoint as executor to confirm he’s on board as well. If there is no executor of a Will, the court will appoint one.
3. Choose a Guardian for Your Children
If you have children under 18, it is important to designate a Guardian who will look after them after you are gone. Guardians are responsible for taking care of the day-to-day needs, upbringing, health, academic requirements, and any welfare of any minor children under 18. If you fail to name any guardians, the court decides who brings up your children, which might not be a person you would ideally choose. To avoid this scenario, ensure you pick an individual who can be trusted and shares your basic values and goals as a parent. This will go a long way in ascertaining that your children will be raised similarly to the way you would have raised them.
4. Keep it Explicit
A Will should always be simple, precise and clear. It’s crucial that you explicitly mention the legal names of all individuals you wish to leave your assets/properties with after you pass away along with all relevant details such as their birth date, address and their relationship with you. A lot of family strife can be avoided later on by simply using clear and precise names that will be easily understood by the people who read your Will.
5. Keep Revisiting Your Will
Revisions to your Will might be necessary for a plethora of reasons. For instance, you might have prepared the original version while you were young and now, you would like to add a few more assets to the list. Additionally, there might have been an occurrence of certain events or changes in the family which might also necessitate changes to the Will. Whatever might be the reasons, ensure you regularly update and review it whenever there are any significant life events.
6. Always Add a Date and Page Numbers
You should make sure to sign and serial number each page of the Will. If possible, get your witness/s also to sign every page. This is to done to avoid any fraudulent practices such as substitution, replacement or insertion of a page/pages by individuals. Further, if there are any corrections to the Will, ensure you countersign it as well. However, If you need to make any major changes to your Will it's best that you create a new one.
7. Store it in a Secure Location
The Will should always be kept in a safe place like a bank vault. Further, keep a couple of duplicate copies in a separate but secure location as well so that if one is misplaced the other may be used. The Executor along with the beneficiaries should always be kept in the loop where the Will is kept.
Although the quickest and the cheapest way to write a Will is to get it done on your own, there are several challenges associated with a self-written Will. A self-written Will is recommended only in cases where you need to convey simple wishes in straightforward circumstances.