A lot of US residents do not see the need to compose a will since many of them think they still have plenty of time to live. While that may be true, death is a dreadful notion that makes it a contentious subject. We support the idea that instead of leaving your loved ones in financial woes, it is better to have a last will ready early.
A last will and testament is an essential document that shows how your wealth will be allocated after you pass away. It is a legally binding device you can use to make arrangements about your property distribution and even stipulate the guardianship guidelines for your minor children in case of your premature death. Today, technological advances also permit the inclusion of digital assets’ ownership instructions in a will. This way, the last will and testament protects your loved ones from fraudsters who may place illegal claims on your estate property.
Download your fillable Last Will and Testament Form in PDF format:
– Adobe PDF
Although many people put off last will creation, it forms an essential part of life in the modern world today. Most US states do not have a requirement for the last will’s legal notarization. So, you can complete a last will form without hiring an expensive lawyer to take you through the process. The only requirement for you to finalize is being of legal age and sound mind when writing your final will and signing the last will with at least two witnesses present.
Composing a last will is a life-changing process, so ask yourself serious questions before selecting your beneficiaries. Usually, the immediate family members are the first on the list of beneficiaries. However, it would be best to think twice about distributing your assets to each of them as unfair treatment may cause an unnecessary family conflict. You need to know the heirs personally and be confident that they will treat your hard-earned property right before you bequeath them your wealth.
Table of Contents
Check Last Will and Testament Forms By State
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Making a Last Will
It is imperative to know the process of will creation and all the parties involved. There are several ways to compose a will. For instance, you can opt to hire a lawyer to assist you in composing a will, or you can generate it online from a trusted site. Whatever option you choose, make sure that you capture the correct details of all the parties.
Follow the steps below to write a last will:
The person composing the will is the testator. Ensure that all of your particulars are apparent in this section. You need to include details such as full names, physical address, and signature have to be in the form. The testator should be 18 years old and above, but it also depends on different states. He or she must be of sane mind without pressure from any person who may influence the will.
- Include Relatives
Here, you must indicate your marital standing. If you have a spouse, ensure that you indicate the full details. Indicate if you are single, a divorcee, widowed, engaged, or separated. If you would like to include other relatives, it is allowed.
- Add Children
In this section, you need to include all your children and their particulars. You need to state whether the child is dead or alive, the full names and birth date.
- Funeral Arrangement
Although no one knows the time and place death occurs, it is imperative to plan your funeral to avoid burdening your loved ones with expenses and significant decisions. In this section, you have to make a list of all your funeral wishes and arrangements. If you have already made plans with a funeral home, ensure that you include the details, such as the funeral home’s name, the physical address, city, and phone number.
Capture all your funeral plans in the will, including a repast after the funeral service. Also, indicate whether you want to be buried or cremated and the burial venue. Moreover, you need to state if the funeral expenses will be catered using the estate’s proceeds or if you have money set aside for the arrangement, or if your life insurance policy will pay for the funeral.
- Debt Settlement
Any individual is susceptible to accumulate debts when alive. Whether it is in the form of taxes, hospital bills, or personal debts, you may have unpaid arrears when you die. In this section of the will, you need to include all your debts and how they will be settled. You can state that all the debts should be paid from the estate proceeds or a particular amount set aside for debts.
You do not have to be rich with vast properties to make a will. Any belonging that you feel valuable can count in your will. Here, it would be best if you put down everything that is under your name.
Whether it is a business asset, home, real estate properties, and any other tangible value, ensure that you indicate all the details. It is imperative to note that you can only include personal property that you are the sole owner. Do not include joint ownership property in your will because the court will not recognize it. For instance, if you bought a home with your spouse and the title has both your names, your spouse will automatically get the home after you die. A last will and testament requires you to be the sole owner of your estate. All the people who will inherit your valuables are in this section.
- Pet Care
Most people with pets have a strong connection with the animals and consider them as family members. You can choose a caretaker for your pet upon your death. Ensure that you indicate the guardian’s particulars, such as full name, physical address, and city. You can also include the type of pet, name, and the vet, if any.
An executor is a sole trustee who will oversee the estate planning and sharing. In this section, you must name and capture all the particulars of the executor. For instance, the name, relationship to the testator, physical address, city, and state. It is advisable to select two executors in case the primary trustee fails to discharge the task. The executor takes charge of all the estate planning documents.
Today, you can also include digital assets in your last will, and hence, there is an option of appointing a digital executor. These assets may include copyrights, royalties, or social media accounts. Moreover, you can include the name and the relationship of the digital executor on the document.
No matter how big or small your estate, you have to appoint an executor.
Finally, you can now get the witnesses and the signatures of all the parties involved. For the testament form to be valid, two witnesses are of legal age and their signatures. The last will and testament must have the full names and signatures from the testator and the witnesses. Make sure that a lawyer is present to engrave a legal seal on the paper.
Importance of a Will
When planning your life, it is essential to prepare a will since it can happen when you least expect it. Don’t think that you are too young to write a will. As long as you have reached the required legal age, you can craft a last will. While many people still think that wills are only for the wealthy, the perception is changing as more young people understand the importance of a will. Whether you have a small estate or one property, you need to put it down in writing and indicate the trusted beneficiary.
A last will is a significant form that helps avoid family conflicts arising from illegal claims from relatives or fraudulent third parties.
The document will also facilitate selecting a legal guardian for your children if your spouse is unfit or deceased. You can also set aside a trust fund that ensures your children get a good education upon your death.
Sometimes you may have malicious business partners or relatives who may contest your testament. When your executor presents the legal document in court, all the wishes will be fulfilled since it is valid, and no individual will oppose the terms of the will.
The Last Will and Testament Online Form
In search of a quick way to craft your will? You are on the right platform. Today, most states require residents to use online templates to complete wills. We offer fillable PDF documents with all the necessary information about the will. You can download the free last will form on our site and fill in all the details as per your wishes. Print it out and call your witnesses to sign the document. Instead of hiring an expensive lawyer to provide legal advice, you can generate a high-quality will from our site at no cost at all.
Our online tool has an easy-to-use interface that is quite convenient. You no longer have to waste time with endless trips to the law firm seeking legal advice on how to write a will. Whether you are relaxing at home or in the office, you can complete your last will at any time. Get a will template with ease and convenience, no matter where you are. You can quickly generate a last will and testament form and tailor it according to your asset size and number of beneficiaries. Our step-by-step builder is your number one will creator right at your fingertips. No legal jargon, no legal fees, and no meetings. Write your will within the comfort of your home and get total peace of mind.
What if I Die Without a Will?
Death usually strikes at unexpected moments. Hence, most people end up dying without a will due to various reasons. You may think you still have more years to live, or you may not fully understand the essence of a will.
Suppose you pass on and you don’t have a last will. The government is obligated to take control of your estate and conduct the property allocation on their terms. Your immediate family, wife, and kids will get a substantial portion of your wealth. If you are single, your parents, siblings, and extended family members will be entitled to your estate.
If you pass away without a will, you will not have control over your estate planning. Your properties may be given to people you never got along with, and a public trustee will be appointed to oversee the allocation according to the government. Hence, your family may suffer financial woes, and your kids may be handed over to a wicked custodian without completing their education.
Altering a Last Will
While altering a will may seem challenging, it is quite simple. You might want to add or remove a beneficiary, include a real estate property or a new home. Probably your divorce has gone through, and you may have remarried again. You can add your new spouse to your will. Whatever your reason for amending your will, it is acceptable as long as you meet all the legal requirements. The process of alteration is called a codicil.
It is imperative to note that you cannot scribble sentences on a will or cross-out information to add additional data. Altering your will is similar to preparing a new will, although you will be appending new information.
Revoking a Last Will
You may want to cancel the will after preparing it due to various reasons. Probably you wish to create another will with different recipients or maybe add other valuables. It is acceptable to revoke a will under the state laws. However, the testator must do it freely without acting under duress.
You must be mentally healthy to cancel your will since scammers may force you to revoke to satisfy their selfish interests. Thus, you must tear or burn the document to make it unreadable. You can cancel your will or delegate it to a reliable person, but with concrete evidence for the intention.
Essential Documents To Accompany Last Will
Apart from the will, other essential documents should complement the last will and testament, relating to major decisions about your health. They include:
- A medical power of attorney document. This document reveals the main person who will decide about your health if you become incapacitated.
- Living will. It shows the type of medical care you might require if you cannot make the decision.
- Durable power of attorney. It identifies the person who will manage your financial decisions.
- HIPAA release document – Permits your doctors to talk about your sickness with people you will list on this form
- Organ donation authorization – If you plan to donate any of your organs, this document is essential.
Any individual who plans to write a will must also engage in estate planning. It is a process that comprises collective management of your properties in case you die or become incapacitated. Most people usually seek the help of legal offices to plan their estate.
It is vital to understand the importance of estate planning since it will significantly impact the allocation. You must know all your assets and why you need to bequeath what property to a specific beneficiary. It helps to ensure the longevity of your businesses or estate after you are gone.
Furthermore, you must also know that the bigger your estate, the higher the planning budget will cost. Hence, you must compare the prices before hiring a lawyer for assistance. Ensure that you choose the right person to handle your estate.
- Is it important to prepare a will?
Yes. Writing a will is essential since it helps prevent family disputes during estate distribution and cushions your family from selfish relatives and scammers.
- Do I need a lawyer to write a last will?
It is not necessary to hire a lawyer, but you can seek legal advice. As long as you follow all the requirements in the form, you can write your will without an attorney.
- What happens if I die without a last will?
The state will take over your estate and allocate it to your family members.