How to get started making a will

Stories of celebrities and other wealthy individuals who die without a will and accidentally disinherit loved ones often make the news. The results can be infighting and drawn-out court proceedings. Instead of putting your family through that, document your final wishes by making a will today.

Why a will is important
A will is a key part of your financial future and a cornerstone of your estate plan. It guides the distribution of your assets upon your death. Whether you’re married or single, a will could help prevent misunderstandings later. If you die without a will in place, state laws dictate how your assets get divided.

A will allows you to assign an executor to handle the distribution of your assets, name guardians for your kids and pets, provide funeral directions, and more.

You may not need a lawyer to create a will; online DIY wills are available. However, if your situation is complicated or you don’t feel comfortable creating this important directive on your own, use the paid option to consult with an attorney, or seek in person help.

The process of creating a will
Get started by documenting key parts of your life:

Determine your assets: Gather documents for real estate, savings and checking accounts, investments, life insurance policies and retirement plan accounts.

List your debt: Document mortgages, car loans, credit card debt and any other personal debt you may have.

Gather key family details: List names, addresses and birth dates for yourself; your spouse/partner, if applicable; children and their proposed guardian, if necessary; beneficiaries who will be mentioned; and the person you choose as executor of your will.

What to do after creating a will
You’ll need to have two impartial witnesses sign your will. All three of you will do so in front of a notary. Preferably, witnesses are not your heirs. If using an attorney, the staff will handle all these details, including making and distributing copies later. With a DIY will, you’ll be responsible for making and distributing copies of your notarized will.

Experts recommend you give one copy to your executor, keep another in a fireproof safe at home, and store the third copy in an offsite location like a safe deposit box.

With a DIY will, you’ll be responsible for making and distributing copies. Finally, experts recommend you give one copy to your executor, keep another in a fireproof safe at home and store the third copy in an offsite location like a safe deposit box.

Contact your local credit union or bank for assistance with estate planning, or for a referral to a local attorney. If you complete your will online, consider selecting the option to consult with an attorney.

Article provided by Local Government Federal Credit Union. 
The advice provided is for information purposes only. Contact an estate planning attorney for additional guidance.