How to Create a Will & What to Include in it

Death is an uncomfortable topic for some, but having a discussion about it should not be procrastinated. Writing your will now will allow you to make important decisions regarding your loved ones and assets rather than leaving it to your family to make those decisions without the benefit of your wisdom and insights. 

What Exactly is a Will?

A will, also known as a last will and testament, is a legal document that declares the desired distribution of your assets as well as the guardianship of any minor children you may have. In order for a will to be valid, it must follow one of several formal procedures, depending on the circumstances of how it is prepared. Our services make it easy to guarantee the right procedure is done properly and effectively.

The main goal of preparing a will is to make sure that your wishes are carried out after your death. By having a last will and testament, it lightens the load for your loved ones in a time when they could really use guidance and direction. There’s no need to let your lack of prior planning cause them additional grief at the time of your death.

What Happens if I Don’t Make a Will?

When a person dies without a will, he or she is considered to have died “intestate”. This means that the important decisions regarding the payment of your debts, the distribution of your property, the management of assets that are intended for minors or disabled heirs, the appointment of responsible persons to administer your estate or take care of your loved ones, and other questions will be determined, to some extent, by state law, but otherwise will have to be worked out among your surviving family members, who may have vastly different opinions about those issues. That is how disagreements may arise and expensive litigation can result.  The ultimate outcome will probably not align with your personal desires. It’s best to make these choices yourself now to ensure things transpire as you wish.

What Does a Will Include?

To break it down simply, a last will and testament includes the following things:

1. Beneficiaries – In the context of a will, a beneficiary is an individual or entity such as a charity that receives benefits from the owner of the will. 

Before your appointment, make a list of your desired beneficiaries and have an idea of who will be receiving what from your assets. At the time of your appointment, you will need information about each of the beneficiaries. This includes their name, address, phone number, and date of birth. 

2. Distribution of Assets – This is where you determine what assets are distributed to each of your beneficiaries, whether it’s cash, tangible personal property, real estate, or other objects. 

You may consider constructing a list of gifts to pass on to loved ones, such as a family heirloom, a car, china, or a specific sum of money. When outlining each of your assets, your attorney will also help you lay out any debts you may have and what will become of them. 

3. Guardians – If you have children who are minors, then you may want to consider who you wish their guardian to be. A guardian is a person who has the legal authority to be the primary caretaker for a minor.  

You should speak with your chosen guardians about your decision before writing them into your will. An alternate guardian is advised in case your first choice is unable to care for them, or in the case of an accident involving both parents later on. 

4. Appointed Executor – This is someone you personally choose to make sure your wishes are carried out the way they are supposed to be. 

Reach out to your chosen executor to be sure they are up for the job. The fact that you are writing a will in the first place will make this job easier, but it should be something they are aware of and expecting at the time of your passing.

How Do I Write My Will?

Here at Hopkins Roden, we are happy to assist you in the process of writing your last will and testament. Our skilled attorneys will ensure your experience is nothing short of smooth, simple, and succinct. Once your appointment is scheduled, you will receive a questionnaire to complete prior to your scheduled time.

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