Writing a will can be an intimidating task. Not only do most people not want to dwell on their passing, but thinking about who should and shouldn’t be beneficiaries of your hard-earned assets can be difficult because of the hard feelings it may cause. Putting the social aspect aside, making sure your will covers every possibility, accounts for all your assets, and takes advantage of every tax, financial, and legal benefit also can be overwhelming. But you have options to get it done right. Plus, you’ll provide yourself and your family with the peace of mind in knowing that the important decisions regarding your estate have been handled.
How do you create a will?
You know you need a will but how do you go about creating one? Don’t let the very idea of creating such an important legal document leave you overwhelmed. You can hire an estate lawyer, use will preparation software, or simply fill out a template online. Consider the following to determine which option suits you best:
Hiring a professional: By choosing to work with an estate lawyer you are taking advantage of the experience and knowledge such an individual has acquired from many years of helping clients manage their assets in the event of death. Estate lawyers are especially helpful if your financial situation is complicated (think multiple properties, businesses, or investments) or you have complex instructions for how your assets should be distributed. Costs vary but you could expect to pay a flat fee of a few hundred dollars for a simple will and associated documents or hundreds of dollars per hour for more complex situations.
Doing it yourself: If your financial circumstances and your instructions are not too complicated, you can draft a will using any of the will drafting software options available online. Some just offer a template and may cost you nothing to use while others charge a fee that ranges from $7.95 a month to $99 annually to provide storage and printing capabilities. The paid services also offer legal help that you can’t get with the free template options.
You Have Drafted Your Will. What’s Next?
Now that you have a signed will that attests to your legal age and sound mind and outlines your wishes relating to your assets, minor children and pets, you’ll need a witness to sign it or get it notarized. Then you will need to determine a place for safekeeping. Rather than a safe deposit box that might require legal intervention on the part your survivors to access it, consider keeping your signed will in a water and fireproof safe in your home.
If you know what your plans are for your loved ones and how you’d like your assets handled, writing a will does not have to be a grim and difficult experience. Once you’ve completed this important task, you can get back to focusing on what’s most enjoyable in life – living it.