Lawyers and financial advisors recommend writing wills to ensure your wishes for transferring assets are followed in your absence.Also, wills and trusts eliminate conflict and lengthy legal proceedings over the distribution of your wealth.Unfortunately, many of us dont have wills.A Gallup study reveals that only 45% of adult Americans have living wills.
But if you die without writing a will or trust, your family may have a difficult time settling your affairs and determining asset allocation.Perhaps people havent realized the importance of preparing trusts and wills, procrastinate, or just dont know how to prepare these important documents.Heres an extensive guide on how to prepare trusts and wills.Who Needs Wills & Trusts?Theres a widespread belief that wills and trusts are for the wealthy and elderly.Perhaps, this is why so many people dont have them yet theyre waiting to get old or wealthy.
However, you can have a will if any of the descriptions below fit you:Youre an adult over 18 yearsYou own a home or propertyYou have savings or investmentsYou have a careerYou have children or other dependentsIf the above factors describe you and you dont have a will, you need to write one now.Otherwise the courts will decide about your interests after you die.But dont worry weve got some tips to help you.How to Write a WillA will ensures that your final wishes are respected.
The most obvious way to write a will is to visit an attorney.However, there are other options, like writing it all by yourself.Whichever option you choose, heres how to draft your will.1.
Decide how you want to write your willDo you want to write it all by yourself, or do you need an attorney's expertise? Youre free to decide how you want to draft your will.Here are 4 ways to write your will according to Forbes experts:Use an in-person paid service (attorney or lawyer)This is the traditional and recommended route for writing wills, and for a good reason! You have a professional assisting you closely and offering a high level of reassurance that you cant get elsewhere.However, this is an expensive and time-consuming process.
Moreover, you want to find a professional that you trust.Use an online paid serviceThere are many online service providers ready to help you write your will.However, you should read customer reviews before committing to one.Buy a DIY kit or templateYou can use a DIY will template online or in some brick-and-mortar stores.The kits have guidelines, templates, and examples to help you draft and legally validate your will.
However, these only apply to generic wills.Write Your OwnIf you are familiar with the law, you can quickly write your own will.Additionally, go over your countrys or states legal requirements for will writing.Handwritten wills are also referred to as holographic wills.
Unfortunately, these wills dont work in all states, and the courts can rule them invalid.We, therefore, dont recommend holographic wills.2.Lay out your assets (and think about your last wishes)Gather a list of all your assets and think about your final wishes.
Your assets may include:Real estate or propertyCash savings or checking accountsIntellectual property, like copyrights, patents, and royaltiesIntangible personal property, including businesses, bonds, and stocksOther valuables, like cars, collectibles, artwork, and family heirloomsYou may also consider your digital assets, including social media accounts, email addresses, online bank accounts, photo sites, and more.Once you have a list, make your intentions detailed and precise.RELATED CONTENT: What to Know about an Advanced Directive3.Get the necessary documents needed for will preparationBefore you begin preparing your will, get all the necessary documents needed to prepare or execute.
Some of the documents will confirm ownership of your assets and properties.They include:Deed(s) to propertyMarriage/divorce licenses and certificatesInsurance policy informationMortgage informationInvestment portfolioList of all your bank accountsNames, emails, addresses, and phone numbers for your lawyers, banker, financial advisor, insurance agent, and any other party of interest4.Choose your beneficiaries and executorBeneficiaries are the people wholl gain from your will.
They may be your children, spouse, parents, or friends.Some people choose to donate all or part of their property to non-profit and charitable organizations.Your beneficiaries will inherit your properties and your belongings as expressed in your will.When choosing beneficiaries for your will, be specific about who will inherit what.Additionally, if theres someone you dont want to benefit from your property when you die, be sure to name them too.Once youve allocated your property to your beneficiaries, pick an executor, someone wholl ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes.
Choose someone trustworthy who can handle all the legal, financial, and moral obligations.You may also want to identify a co-executor.5.Name a guardianIf you have children who havent attained the legal age or who may have special needs and require care past the legal age, nominate a guardian.
The named guardian takes full physical and legal custody of your minors after you die.While guardianship typically passes down to any surviving parent, you may want to name someone else if the surviving parent is incompetent.6.Sign your willWhen all your wishes are finally on paper, proceed to sign your will.
However, check your states requirements before signing.Some jurisdictions specify the number and identity of witnesses.Ideally, have at least two witnesses.Note: A will is not legally valid until signed before witnesses.
Also, witnesses are not supposed to be beneficiaries of your will.7.Store your willFind a secure place to store your will and ensure your executor knows where to find a copy.For example, you can keep it in a safety deposit box, a fireproof safe, or a legacy drawer.
You can also store or even have your will executed electronically.8.Review and update your willChances are, you will not immediately after preparing your will.Therefore, you may need to update or amend your will based on significant life changes or after a specific period.Ideally, review and update your will after every 5 years.
However, major life changes can trigger a review of your will before the five years.Some events that warrant a review of your will include:Marriage/remarriageDivorceBirthing/adopting childrenPurchase/sale of a major asset/propertyDeath of a beneficiary or executorRELATED CONTENT: When & Why to Consider Power of AttorneyHow to Write & Prepare a TrustSetting a trust allows you to manage your property and assets throughout your life and after your death.A trust transfers assets from the owner (known as the grantor/trustor) to a trustee.While wills only take effect when you die, trusts are effective once you transfer your assets to the trustee.
Before writing your trusts, its important to understand the various types.Living trust/ inter vivos trust: Refers to a type of trust prepared while the grantor is still alive.Revocable trust: Refers to a living trust that you can cancel or change at any time.Testamentary trust: Set up by the grantors final will and testament.Spendthrift trusts: Trusts meant for beneficiaries that cant make sound financial decisions.In this case, the trustee decides how the heir(s) spend money.Now that you understand the different types of trusts, follow these steps to prepare your trust:1.Identify and decide the assets to place in your trustList all your properties and decide which ones you want to include in your trust.
They could be investments, real estate, bonds, or businesses.2.Identify beneficiariesDecide and list down all the beneficiaries of your trust.They may include your spouse, children, friends, parents, grandchildren, and even charities.3.
Find all the paperworkGet all documents attached to your assets and properties, including title deeds, insurance policies, and stock certificates.4.Select your trustee(s)This is an essential part of preparing your trust.You can choose a family or friend to manage your assets and property.
However, we recommend selecting an unbiased third party, like your lawyer, who is not tied to your family dynamics.This ensures that your trust is executed in accordance with your wishes.Additionally, you want a professional with experience dealing with potential issues that could arise during the implementation of the trust.5.Draft the trust documentEnsure you create your trust agreement with the help of an experienced attorney.
Of course, your trustee will be present to sign the agreements and accept the transfer of assets and property.Final ThoughtsIt is believed that trusts and wills are for the wealthy and elderly.However, everyone can write a will or create a trust to express their last wishes.If you have any property, children, savings, or investments, it's crucial to prepare a will while youre still alive.
This makes it easier for your beneficiaries to inherit your property per your wishes without any challenges or battles.The process of preparing wills and trusts is almost similar.When preparing a will or trust, we recommend enlisting the help of experienced attorneys.