Creating a will is often the most important part of the estate planning process. A will allows you to have control over your property and other aspects of your life, even when you are no longer alive.
Here are some of the most crucial steps to creating a will.
Make sure to follow all requirements
Many people think that writing their wishes on a piece of paper is enough to constitute a will. However, this is not the case. A will must meet all legal requirements for a court to deem it valid.
In New York, a will must be:
- In writing (oral wills are only accepted under rare circumstances).
- Signed by the testator (will maker, at least 18 years of age, of sound mind and memory) in front of two disinterested witnesses.
- Signed by the two disinterested witnesses (addresses must be listed following their signatures).
Determine asset distribution
A key part of your will requires you to specify how your assets (money, personal property, etc.) will be distributed to your loved ones when you die. You may name your family, friends, pets and charitable organizations as beneficiaries.
Name a guardian
If you have a minor child, you may name a guardian to raise your child in the event that both you and your child’s other parent have passed away.
Name an executor
You will need to name someone you trust to execute your will once you are gone. You may also name a second executor in case the first one is unable or unwilling to perform their duties.
While you can draft a will without the help of an attorney, it is generally ill-advised to do so. An attorney can make sure your estate planning documents are completed in accordance with state law to make life easier for your loved ones after you pass away.