It is generally accepted that everyone should have a will (also known as a Last Will and Testament), but a majority of us – about 70% - do not. Writing a will is easy and inexpensive, and once completed you will have peace of mind knowing your hard-earned money and property will be distributed according to your wishes. Additionally, if you have children, you will want to name the child/children's guardian(s) if you should pass. By including this as a provision in your will, this important decision will be made without the interference of the court system.
For a will to be valid and legal, the writer must be at least 18 years of age, and of sound mind at the time the will is written. To make a will legal, it must:
- Expressly state that it is your will
- Be computer generated or typewritten
- Be signed and dated
- Be signed by 2-3 witnesses who do not stand to inherit anything from the will
Although it is not legally necessary to have an attorney draw up your will, it is recommended, as a lawyer could help prevent a number of legal headaches after your passing. Once your will is complete, it is wise to store it somewhere safe and secure, preferably outside of your home. Many people keep their wills in a safety deposit box at a bank, but this is not recommended as the contents could be sealed at the time of your death. If you write your will with the help of an attorney, most law firms will store the document free of charge. Make sure your executor is aware of the location of your will.