Tips for Writing a Will

Follow this road map to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone.

A senior citizen signing a document.

You should be specific about who gets what when writing your will. (GETTY IMAGES)

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While you may be inclined to put off thinking about your mortality, taking the time to prepare a well-written document that indicates how you would like your possessions and assets to be distributed after you die is key to avoiding strife among loved ones. And though you’re acknowledging you won’t live forever by drawing up a will, leaving behind a record of how you want your personal belongings and money to be allocated is important.

If you’ve been procrastinating on completing the task, here’s your chance to cross if off your list. Get started and complete your will in 10 simple steps:

[See: 11 Money Moves to Make Before You Turn 40.]

1. Decide if you want to get help or use a do-it-yourself software program.

Consider either using an attorney or a reputable online software to help you write your will, rather than opting for a DIY will. Some software programs to consider include:

There are too many horror stories of people who wrote out wills on their own – with financially devastating consequences, including saddling heirs with steep legal fees and hefty taxes.

One of the best examples of why you shouldn’t write your own will lies with the late Warren Burger, a Supreme Court justice. You would think he, of all people, could write a will, but it was only 450 words, vague and riddled with errors. His heirs spent a fortune in legal fees and more than $450,000 in taxes by the time they were finally able to collect their assets. If you’re firmly in the middle class, and your financial portfolio is fairly simple, you can probably get away with writing a will using a legal online site. But if you are upper-middle class or worth millions, hire an estate attorney. While the price will depend on the intricacy of your financial situation, you can expect to pay a few thousand dollars to work with a reputable estate attorney to ensure your assets are protected.

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2. Select your beneficiaries.

When you die, someone is going to receive your money, your house and other belongings. You probably won’t have to think long about the beneficiaries you designate, but it’s key to ensure that who you select is up-to-date. If you go with a legal online site, there will be a place to identify beneficiaries on the last will and testament form; if you have an attorney, he or she will write your will for you.

3. Choose the executor for your will.

This person will be tasked with making sure the wishes in your will are carried out, so you’ll want to choose someone who is responsible. You may end up choosing your bank or an attorney as your executor, in which case you can expect to spend 2 to 4 percent of…

This article was sourced from the US News.

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