Although making a will may not be a pleasant prospect, this important task will ensure that your survivors carry out your wishes after your death. A will contains important instructions for the division of your estate. Make a will for your personal belongings to make sure that your prized possessions end up in just the right hands after you check out.
Determine Your Estate
Make a list of all the items that make up your estate. Your estate includes personal property, real estate and money including investments. Include the estimated values of each item. Create a list of all possible beneficiaries to whom you may want to leave items in your estate. If you list children as beneficiaries, the Colonial Penn Life Insurance Co. recommends setting up a children’s trust with a named trustee to manage this trust property. See an estate attorney to complete this process.
Select an Executor
Select an executor of your estate. This should be a trustworthy person who will perform the task in a careful manner. The executor may be a family member or it may be a professional third party. Before naming someone as executor, discuss your wishes with the person to ensure she is willing and able to carry out the tasks involved.
Write Your Will
Put your will in writing, adding your full legal name and your primary address. List your assets individually, including all personal property, real estate, and savings and investment accounts. List the full names of each beneficiary and any alternative beneficiaries. List the full name of the executor. Create an entry for each asset you want to leave to a specific person. Include a detailed description of the item and the person’s full name. Learn your state’s requirements for executing a valid will. States have individual requirements that dictate how to execute a will. Follow the process, signing and dating the will in the presence of the required number of witnesses. Have the witnesses also sign and date the will.
Register Your Will
Make at least one copy of your signed and dated will. File the original in a safe place in your home protected from fire and floods but that is accessible to others upon your death. Leave a copy with your attorney. Inform your family members where to find your will. Contact your Secretary of State's office to find out if you must register your will; not all states require you to register a will. If you must register it, visit the local Register of Wills office and present your will. The office will examine it to ensure that it meets state requirements. As long as it satisfies all requirements, the Register of Wills office will retain the original document on file. Pay the applicable fee for registering your will.
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