As a legal document, your will is meant to memorialize how you wish to distribute your property and assets after your death. It is also a way to name a guardian for any children and to designate an executor (the person responsible for carrying out your wishes). Depending on your state’s regulations, you may be required to sign your will in the presence of two witnesses. Using a will service to create and store your documents can help ensure they are properly drafted, signed and notarized so that they are valid and can be followed in the event of your death.
You can write your own will, hire a lawyer to draft it for you or use an online will service to make the process easy and affordable. There are a few basic steps to creating a will, including taking inventory of all your assets, identifying beneficiaries and choosing an executor. You will want to be as specific as possible when describing your assets, including their individual names and values.
An attorney’s services tend to cost more than other options, though they legal will services can help to ensure that your will is worded precisely and correctly. They can also help you navigate more complex asset or beneficiary situations. Some online will services include access to an attorney for a one-time fee of $300 to $1,000, while others offer monthly memberships starting at $89 and up.
The best legal will service is the one that is easiest for you to use, allowing you to complete your estate plan quickly and easily. Some services will allow you to fill in all the information online, while others provide you with an attorney-drafted questionnaire to help customize your documents to your unique situation. GoodTrust is an example of a service that provides this customized questionnaire.
A legal will must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person making the will). It must be dated, signed and witnessed by at least two people. It must be stored in a safe place and kept updated as your circumstances change. Your Will should be accompanied by a letter of instruction that describes your overall wishes and lists all your assets. A notarized affidavit may be required, stating that no substitutions or additions were made to the document since it was signed. It’s important to note that any marks, comments or changes to your Will could be a reason it is invalidated.
If you die without a will, your family must go through a complicated legal process called estate administration to determine who gets your money and property. This can cause stress, delay and disputes among your survivors. A will can avoid this by directing your beneficiaries and appointing a guardian for minor children. A will also helps to avoid paying a tax on your estate. You can choose to write a simple will or a more detailed one that includes specific stipulations, clauses and instructions. The most common type of will is a testamentary will.