Get started with a will

If you’re among the millions of Americans who haven’t created a will, there are estate planning attorneys available in your area. While online DIY wills are available, if your situation is complicated or you simply don’t feel comfortable creating this important directive on your own, seek in-person help.

As you get ready for your initial visit, make the process smoother by thinking through key parts of your life in advance. Get started with these tips.

Why you need a will

A will serves as the guide for the distribution of your assets upon your death. It could help prevent family feuds and expensive court proceedings. If you die without a valid will in place, your property will be divided according to your state’s laws and not your direction. A will lets you make your expectations clear. This document allows you to assign an executor or executrix, who will handle the distribution of your property as you’ve directed as well as name guardians for your kids and pets, if necessary.

Get ready to draft your will

Whether you use an online service or an attorney’s office, you’ll need to gather information.

  • Determine your assets: Gather documents for any real estate you own, savings and checking accounts, investments, life insurance policies and retirement plan accounts.
  • List the amount of your debt: Document mortgages, car loans and credit card debt.
  • Gather key family details: Be prepared to list names, addresses and birth dates for you; your spouse/partner if applicable; children and their proposed guardian, if necessary; and an executor or executrix of your will.

What to do after creating a will

Without an attorney, you’ll sign and date your will in front of a notary. Next, you’ll need to gather the signatures of two witnesses. Preferably, neither of those witnesses should be an heir. Your witnesses should be people who are impartial. If using an attorney, he’ll handle all of these details, including making and distributing the required copies.

Otherwise, you’ll need one copy of your will for your estate administrator, another to be kept in a fireproof safe at home and a third to be stored in an offsite location like a safe deposit box. With a DIY will, you’ll be responsible for making and distributing copies.

A will is an important part of your financial future and a cornerstone of your estate plan. Make the time to get started on a will today. 

The advice provided is for informational purposes only. Contact an attorney for additional guidance.

Article provided by Local Government Federal Credit Union.