It’s not the most glamorous task you want to do, and you’re likely to put it off until another day. But making a will and periodically reviewing and updating it is a good way to see that your wishes are carried out when you pass, such as leaving your home to a son or daughter.
State at the top of the page that this is the will of (your name, address and date). Include a sentence stating that you are of sound mind, are not writing this will under duress, and that these are your wishes.
Specify your wishes. For example, state that your house is to be left to your son, and spell out his full name (“I bequeath my entire house to my son, George Daniel Smith”). If your home’s contents and other possessions (such as a car) are to go to him also, specify that clearly in writing, otherwise include the full name of whoever is to get those possessions. Remember that you may also have financial assets: cash, certificates of deposit (CDs), stocks and other investments. You can allocate percentages of these assets to go to different recipients.
Include a “residual clause” which will assign any assets you forget to mention (“I bequeath any residue to my son, George Daniel Smith”).
Name an executor, which can be your son, to handle funeral costs, taxes and final bills or debts out of the estate.
Initial every page if your document has more than one page.
Pay a notary public to verify your signing of the will. Have a friend or family member also sign your will as a witness. Optionally, you can consult with a lawyer to look over your will to identify any possible conflicts or exclusions.
Stationery stores and office supply stores have will documents that you can use as a template to guide you through the creation of a will. Use blue ink to sign and initial your will to give further evidence that this document is not a copy. Make copies and let your family know where you keep them.
- Stationery stores and office supply stores have will documents that you can use as a template to guide you through the creation of a will. Use blue ink to sign and initial your will to give further evidence that this document is not a copy. Make copies and let your family know where you keep them.
Dan Keen is the publisher and editor of a county newspaper in New Jersey. For over 30 years he has written books and magazine articles for such publishers as McGraw-Hill. Keen holds a degree in electronics, was chief engineer for two radio stations and taught computer science at Stockton State College.