Drafting a will is not something most Americans fancy, probably why several recent studies have shown that only around 35% to 45% of Americans have one. However, it is worth swallowing this bitter pill instead of your loved ones having to wrestle with questions once you’re gone. Here are the steps to devising a will:
- Establish why you need the will
A will makes it clear to the world about the person you want to inherit your assets. Dying without one or dying “intestate” leaves the state to decide for you. While the laws vary from state to state, generally, your assets are shared between your children and your surviving mate. If you died single, the state decides the inheritance of your estate by one of your blood relatives. Also, if you have young children, making a will enables you to nominate a guardian for them.
- Take stock of your assets
Start off by making a thorough list of all your assets inclusive of your investments, insurance policies, retirement savings and collectibles. Afterwards, settle on the following:
- The person(s) you want to get your assets.
- The person you want as guardian if you and your partner were to pass away.
- The person to execute the will
- The person to deal with your financial affairs in case you are incapacitated.
- The person to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to do so.
- Draft the will
If there is not much to your will, you can draft one using web tools such as Legal Zoom or Nolo. Otherwise, seek the services of an attorney who will handle the whole process.
- Appoint an executor
An executor is the person responsible for distributing your property, filling the estate’s tax returns and processing any claims from creditors. You can choose from your friends or relatives, or a professional such as a lawyer or accountant. In the case of a professional, he/she is paid from your assets. Ensure you negotiate the amount in advance.
- Power of attorney
Assigning power of attorney means that the person is responsible for paying your bills, managing your investments or making crucial financial decisions in the event that you are unable to do so.
- Living will
This is a statement that voices your wishes on the kind of medical intervention you desire or not, in case you are terminally ill and cannot communicate.
- Healthcare power of attorney
With a health-care agent advocating in your place, the chances of your health care directives getting enforced rise. They must be aware of your medical information and keep your best interests in mind before making any decision.
In conclusion, once you make the will, update it annually. You should also discuss with your heirs outlining your intentions to reduce on disagreements.