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How To Make a Will

If you don’t have a will, the court will distribute your property according to state laws.

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Your Will is About People

Your Beneficiaries & Those Who See That Your Will Get Done

Your will should clearly identify:

A will is not just about money. It also determines who’ll get custody of your kids.

  • Your beneficiaries – the people who will receive parts of your estate  – and your relationship.
  • If you have children or other dependents, who will take care of them in the event of your death.  He or she must be at least 18 years old.
  • Who will make sure your “will” gets done. This person, called the executor of your will, is often a trusted family member, friend, or attorney.

Things To Consider

Learn why its so important for parents to have a will. Brought to you by Marketwatch at CBS.

The Business Side

Document & Divide Your Estate

  • List your assets and debts.
  • Identify how you want to divide your estate and who, if anyone, you want to get specific assets.
  • You can address items not specifically mentioned in the will with a catchall phrase that states, “I give the remainder of my estate to [name of beneficiary here].”

With or Without a Lawyer

Any Adult of Sound Mind Can Draft a Will

There is no legal requirement that a lawyer draw up your will.

  • A lawyer, however, can help avoid mistakes, and help if a disgruntled family member wants to contest your will.
    • Look for a lawyer who has experience in trusts or estates. You can search on the Internet or in the phone book.  Make sure the lawyer works in the same state where you live.
  • To draft a will on your own, there are guides in bookstores and libraries.  You can also search online for templates and software.  Legal requirements vary, depending on where you live, but generally you must:
    • Identify yourself as the maker of the document and clearly state that the document is a will.  Declaring it your “last will and testament” meets that requirement
    • State that you are of “sound mind” and that you freely and willingly make the will.
    • Revoke all previous wills.
    • Identify, in most jurisdictions, at least one beneficiary.
    • Sign and date the will, usually with two witnesses who are not beneficiaries.

Get It Done

Put It On Your Action Plan

If you like, print out this How-To and put  reminders in your calendar to help you move from How-To to Done!

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