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5 Tips to Writing Your Last Will and Testament

Whether you just passed your 60th birthday this year or you just barely turned 20, it’s never too early to write a will, although most of the younger crowd won’t have much (if anything) in the way of property. Still, if worse comes to worst, you’ll know that your possessions will be dealt with exactly as you want. Here are 5 tips to help you create your will.

 

Get a Lawyer

I know, this is the age of do-it-yourself. People want to be independent, but writing your own will without any help from a lawyer is bound to cause problems, and those problems will probably end up costing more money to sort out than the cost of retaining a lawyer from the start. Even though wills aren’t filled with legal jargon, they still need to be written a certain way in order to be valid and for the court to officially recognize them. Therefore, it would be best to find a lawyer to help you out—after all, that’s what lawyers are there for.

You don’t have to go to a highly specialized lawyer, either. All you need to do is find one who knows family law, and you can find those all over, with family lawyers in Markham to Springfield, at all kinds of firms, like Donnell Law. The lawyer you hire will put your will in clear and concise words that will make it easy to understand when the time is right.

 

Talk to Your Loved Ones

The next thing you want to do is talk to the people you love. Your goal here is to find out if there’s anything you have that means a lot to them. You don’t want to give your nice china to your son and his wife if your daughter would cherish it far more than they would.

Many families have been torn apart when the will of a parent or other family member comes out and someone doesn’t get what they want. Accusations are tossed around and everyone gets angry. You don’t want that to happen to your family. You have the opportunity to keep the fighting and familial drama at a bare minimum, so jump on that chance.

 

Name an Executor

The executor of your will is the person who will oversee the distribution of your estate and property (physical and fiscal) and make sure it all happens how you want it to. Because of this, you want to choose someone you trust to carry this responsibility well. Make sure they’re honest. A healthy dose of financial knowledge wouldn’t hurt either.

Before you make their role official, ask the person (whether it’s your spouse, parent, child, or good friend) if they’re okay with handling this position. Being the executor of a will can be demanding, and the person might not feel up to the task. Even if they think they are, they might not be by the time the need arises (whether they’ve passed on as well or are simply incapable). For this reason, you’ll want to name a substitute, just in case.

 

Designate Trusts and Trustees

If your estate is large enough, you might want to set up a trust fund. For one, it’s a possible way to bypass estate taxes. Estate taxes are what your heirs have to pay if the total of your estate is over $4 million (your estate is essentially how much you are worth, or how much money you would have if all your property, stock, everything you own was liquidated), and it can take a hefty chunk of money from them.

When designating trust funds, you also need to appoint a trustee, especially if the trust fund is for a minor (who won’t have access to the money until they turn 18). The trustee will control the funds until the requirements for your heir are met. Those requirements can be whatever you think is appropriate—whether it’s just until they come of age or on their wedding day.

 

Sign and Store the Original

Once you’ve completed your will, it’s time to sign it. You will need to have two witnesses to your signing, but state law declares that neither witness can be a beneficiary in your will. The two witnesses will also need to sign their own statements saying they watched you sign the will. All of these documents work together to prove the validity of the will and your mindset while coming up with it (state law also declares you have to be of sound mind).

After signing the will, you need to store it in a safe place—but one that will be readily found upon your death. It’s also not a bad idea to give a sealed copy to the executor, so there is evidence that a will exists.


Writing a will isn’t a difficult process, if you have the help you need. By using these tips, you can rest in peace knowing your wishes will be carried out. Don’t tempt fate by living the rest of your life without a will.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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