How To Write A Will, Part 2: The Writing Process
My previous post showed you how to plan ahead for writing your will. Here I will describe more specifically how to translate your plan into a legal document.
Name the important people involved in your estate. The very basic part of a Will will have you name your spouse and children. It will also have you name the executor of your estate, which is the person who will carry out the wishes you dictate in your will as well as a guardian who will take care of minor children or dependent adults if you pass away.
List out your bequests. This is where you spell out in black and white which property or assets you want to give to which particular person. This is where you need to be really careful about using spell check to make sure everyone you bequeath your estate to will actually receive it.
Determine who gets the rest of your estate. The list of bequests only covers property and assets that you explicitly name. This next section serves as an “all other” clause, making sure that anything you don’t directly bequeath still goes to the person you want it to go to.
Give your executor additional powers. If you want your executor to tackle any particular additional tasks, you can list those things out when you write a will.
Select any optional provisions. You can stipulate conditions on inheriting parts of your estate. For instance, if a beneficiary currently owes you money, this section can deduct any owed amount from their inheritance. You can also direct how any existing debts you have will be paid out. Funeral wishes, such as wanting a burial or cremation, or where you may want to be interred, are not included in a Will, but may be part of additional documents or instructions.
Get the necessary signatures. As you likely expect, you’ll need to sign your own will to make it legal. You’ll also need to get the signatures of at least two witnesses (in Connecticut), as well as a Notary, to prove that you signed the document of your own free will.
As you can see, if you want to write your own will, it does cover fairly straightforward points. However, I recommend working with an attorney to ensure that your will appropriately conveys your wishes for after your death. My next post covers some common pitfalls when writing your will.
Thomas Babson Kane is an attorney in Glastonbury, CT, specializing in Estate Planning and Real Estate law.