Legal Will – Meaning, Types, Benefits, Requirements, And Example Of A Will
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A will benefits asset protection, guardianship for Minor Children and peace of mind. However, not having a legal will can lead to several disadvantages and potential complications.
A will is a legally binding document that expresses your desires concerning the allocation of your assets and the well-being of any dependent minors. If you pass away without a will, there is a possibility that your wishes may not be fulfilled.
A typical will generally involves the designation of an executor responsible for overseeing the allocation of assets, the identification of beneficiaries who will receive those assets, and guidance regarding the care of any minor children or dependents.
It may also incorporate clauses about the distribution of specific properties, like real estate or personal belongings, and instructions regarding funeral or burial preferences.
To have legal validity, a will must adhere to the prescribed formalities of the applicable jurisdiction, such as being signed by the person making the will (testator) and witnesses in each other’s presence.
Types Of Will:
There are several types of wills, including statutory wills, holographic wills, deathbed wills, joint or reciprocal wills, and pour-over wills. Statutory wills are simple and appropriate for those with small assets, while holographic wills are written in the deceased person’s handwriting and are not accepted in many countries.
Deathbed wills are spoken by the deceased moments before death and may not be recognized in some states. Joint or reciprocal wills can be written mutually by couples, and pour-over will transfer property to a living trust.
Requirements To Draft A Will:
The elements necessary for drafting a will may differ based on the governing laws of a particular jurisdiction, but there are usually some shared components.
For someone to be able to create a will, they must be of a legally recognized age. Generally, 18 is the age of majority presumed by most states.
When a person decides to transfer their property permanently after they pass away and signs a document to that effect, they are said to have the intention of creating a will.
Reasonable Estate Disposal:
It is necessary to transfer property among family members appropriately.
To draft a will, the writer must be mentally stable and aware that they are signing a legal document with consequences.
A will must be created voluntarily without any external pressure. It is considered illegal if an individual is forced to make one.
Signed And Witnessed:
The writer and witnesses must sign a will to be considered legitimate. The regional laws will determine the required number of witnesses.
Benefits Of Will:
A will allows you to allocate your belongings according to your wishes rather than the state’s decision. You can choose who will manage and supervise the allocation of your property, including choosing a trustworthy and unbiased Executor. A carefully drafted Will may reduce the sum of legacy tax payable by descendants.
The Will serves as a formal guide for the custody of minor children if both parents die. Including funeral arrangements in the Will relieves stress for family members and guarantees that your body is cared for as you intend. Settling a property with a written Will is usually faster and less expensive.
How To Write A Will
It is possible to write your own will with careful planning and preparation. The list below outlines essential information to include in a simple will, assuming you have a straightforward estate. Hiring an estate attorney may be more beneficial for a complex or large estate.
Write A Title:
Although it may seem minor, it’s important to make it clear to anyone who comes across your will that it is your final will and testament. To do this, it’s crucial to include your full legal name at the beginning of the document.
If you’ve created previous versions of your will, mention that this version supersedes any previous ones. Additionally, include any other names you’ve gone by over the years.
Name The Executor Of Your Will:
The individual in charge of ensuring that your assets are distributed and resolved in accordance with your will is known as the executor. It is recommended that you select a trustworthy person for this role. Choosing an alternate executor as a precautionary measure may also be a good idea.
Name A Guardian For Any Minors:
If you have children or are responsible for any minors, it is essential to appoint a guardian. The guardian will assume full responsibility for your children’s legal and physical care in the event of your death.
It is important to note that guardianship is usually automatically granted to any surviving parent deemed capable of caring for the children.
Organize And Inventory Assets:
Assets refer to any items owned by an individual and legally registered under their name. This includes personal belongings, cash, property, and pets. It is important to provide a clear and detailed description of each asset to avoid any confusion during the transfer of ownership to the intended beneficiary.
It is advisable to check with the state regulations regarding which assets are eligible for transfer and which are not. For instance, investment accounts or trusts are usually not considered simple assets and are directly passed on to the beneficiaries mentioned in those accounts.
Name The Beneficiaries:
When planning your estate, it is important to assign a beneficiary for each of your assets. This beneficiary can be a person, a non-profit organization, a profit organization or any other entity you select.
You have the option to choose one or more beneficiaries for each asset. Specifying any individuals or entities you do not want to receive the asset in question is crucial.
Write Your Residuary Clause:
A residuary clause in a will encompasses all assets that are not explicitly designated to a particular beneficiary or have not been described thoroughly. This clause ensures that any assets that may have been overlooked or forgotten are not left out.
You can assign these remaining assets to a specific beneficiary or give your executor the discretion to handle them. Including this clause in your will is essential, especially if it is your first attempt at estate planning, as it is possible to forget some of your assets. A residuary clause acts as a safety net and provides peace of mind.
Sign Your Will With Witnesses:
Before signing your will, it is important to verify your state’s regulations since each state has different rules concerning the number and identity of witnesses. Additionally, certain states may mandate that you will be notarized. It is vital to note that your will is not legally binding until witnesses sign it.
Store Your Will In A Safe Place And Update It When Necessary:
It is advisable to inform someone, typically your executor, about the location of your most recent will.
It is also important to regularly update it, especially when you undergo significant life changes such as relocating (as the laws in your new state or country may differ), making substantial purchases or investments in property, getting married or divorced, experiencing the death of a loved one, or when your children become adults.
These events should serve as reminders to review and revise your will accordingly.
Example Of A Will