The Basics of Creating Your Will

(Last Updated On: March 19, 2018)

You’ve probably heard someone talking about creating their will. Or maybe you’ve always thought you needed one but just didn’t think it was the right time. Or maybe you know you need one but aren’t sure what you need to know. Whatever your case, this blog has you covered! Keep reading to learn the basics of creating your will.

Why do You Need a Will?

You need a will to let everyone know your wishes. When everyone knows what you wanted to happen, they are far less likely to fight with each other. So many family feuds are started after the death of a loved one. A will can prevent this by clearly stating who gets what and who will care for your children.

A will allows you to make decisions about your family and your stuff at your death. You get to decide who gets your home, your great-grandmother’s diamond ring, your collection of Hallmark Christmas ornaments, or the priceless love letter from your deceased spouse. You get to decide who will take care of your children. What if you think your sister is way too irresponsible to handle your three kids? If you die without a will and your irresponsible sister is your closest living relative, the court will most likely giver her your precious kiddos. But, if you die with a will that says you want your favorite and most responsible friend to take care of your kids, your sister can’t do anything about it.

Who Gets Your Stuff?

Anyone you want! You can name anyone as a beneficiary of your estate, except for witnesses to the signing of your will. So make sure your witness isn’t also a named beneficiary in your will. As long as your third cousin Suzie isn’t a witness, then go ahead and give her that million-dollar cabin in Steamboat Springs.

Who’s Going to Raise Your Beloved Children?

Deciding who will care for your children is often the most difficult decision you will have to make. Usually, your spouse will take over, but what if they predecease you? Or what if you both are in a tragic helicopter accident? Then you will need to think about who you trust to raise your children in a way that would make you happy and proud. Don’t forget to talk to this person before naming them as guardian. Make sure that they are on board. This is a great responsibility and, as I mentioned above, you don’t want someone you don’t trust taking this on.

Who Will Manage Your Child’s Finances?

Sometimes this person is the same person who is caring for your kids. But sometimes that may not be desirable. This person will manage the financial affairs of your child. They may be responsible for a lot of money, especially if you have life insurance. If you don’t name a conservator, the court will appoint one and that will often be the same person as the guardian.

What if You Don’t Create a Will?

When someone dies without a will, the laws of intestacy kick in. These laws and the court will determine who gets what, who will care for your children, and who will manage your children’s assets. In a very general manner, your closest living relatives will receive your property. If you have a spouse, everything goes to him or her. If you have adult children and no spouse, your adult children receive everything in equal shares.

What Else do You Need to Know About Creating a Will?

This will really be determined by your unique estate planning needs. In some cases, a trust with a pour-over will is the best fit. Other times, a straightforward will is all that is needed. Since your estate plan is tailored specifically to you, the next step is to talk to an attorney about your estate planning needs.