Writing Your Will For The New Year – What to Know

We all have to die someday. Death is inevitable and choosing to ignore what happens to your assets when you're in the afterlife is no good. You need to be prepared. Accidents can happen at any moment and making a will can save your friends and family the pain of having to plan your funeral. Make sure your wishes are granted as they would be if you were there. A new year can also be a good reason to write a new will in case you have any updated wishes. Things can change very rapidly; so it's good to make sure that your wishes are up to date. Now, it's time to write your will.

Death Without A Will

If you die before you have the chance to write a will, all your belongings, assets, and property will be distributed by the system. Each state has different rules for distribution, but usually, the top priority will go to spouses and children of the deceased. [1] They will be the first in line to receive assets. Then, parents and siblings are next in line. Make sure you know your state's distribution laws. If you want to avoid potential family feuds, you will definitely want to state which assets go to whom.

 

Even if you don't have much property, some things are sentimentally valuable that you might like to pass on to certain people. Keep in mind that if you have no will at your death, some states will take your entire estate for themselves. This might be a good motivator to writing a will to make sure that your loved ones get their share.

Writing Your Will

If you're ready to write your will, some things you will want to include:

// Statement and Testament

A will should always start with a statement stating that you are sound of mind when writing the will and that you intend this to be your last will and testament. [2] You should also claim that this will shall overrule any previous wills written. [3]

// Your Executor

This will be the person who will make sure to close all your accounts, pay all your debts, and meet all your last wishes. They will execute the reading of the will and oversee the distribution of your assets. This will be the person who will make sure that all your accounts are closed, all your debts are paid, and also all your last wishes are met. [4]

// Children

If you have any children under 18, a will shall allow you to select a guardian for these minor children. [5] Without a will, your children would be selected a guardian by the court. If you decide on giving legal guardianship to someone other than the child or children's living parent, you need to explain your decision in the will. The parent may try to fight against it, but the final decision will be left to the court. Make sure to be as descriptive as possible.

// Sentimental Property

If you have any items that you want to give to specific people after you pass away, you will want to make sure to state all these items in the will, no matter how small. [5]

// Pets

Without a will, your beloved pet will become the personal property of the state. You will want to list or state any possible caretakers you may want to pass them on to. [6] You may also want to leave money to your pet's guardian to make sure they will be well taken care of.

// Leftover Payments

If you have any debts or taxes that need to be paid, you will want to leave information regarding that in your will as well. [7]


References:

  1. Filing for Child Custody by Unmarried Parents, www.courts.alaska.gov/shc/probate/probate-intestacy.htm.
  2. Balentine, Jerry R. “How to Choose a Primary Care Physician.” EMedicineHealth - Health and Medical Information Produced by Doctors, www.emedicinehealth.com/selecting_a_doctor/article_em.htm#decision-making_capacity.
  3. Revision of the Statutes of New Jersey. Lawbook Exchange, 2005.
  4. Government Digital Service. “Wills, Probate and Inheritance.” GOV.UK, GOV.UK, 12 Dec. 2014, www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/if-the-person-left-a-will.
  5. Last Will & Testament, Cooper Law Firm , 2005.
  6. What Is A Will. Alaska Baptist Foundation, Feb. 2013, alaskabaptistfoundation.com/upload/files/What-is-a-Will-2.pdf.
  7. Government Digital Service. “Wills, Probate and Inheritance.” GOV.UK, GOV.UK, 12 Dec. 2014, www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/if-the-person-left-a-will.