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JonnyCeltics's avatar

Preparing a last will and testament - what do I need to know, and why should I create one?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2721points) April 16th, 2012

I’m not yet 30, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

When is a proper age, reason, or time to create a last will, and should it be legally bound? In other words, should I implement one through a lawyer?

I guess you’re wondering, what do I have that’s valuable. Well, not much (no cars, houses, businesses), but I do have other valuables or accounts that I would want bequeathed (properly), including online accounts (this is legitimate territory)?

Just want to know your thoughts, expertise….

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12 Answers

ro_in_motion's avatar

First, Google ‘Writing my Last Will and Testament on my own in MyCountry’.

If you wish, you can have a separate document that is along the lines on ‘If everyone’s cool, here’s how I’d like some of my stuff to be split up.’ These would be personal to the person getting it.

You can find lawyers who have fill-in-the-blank forms. You can often find them in the ‘forms’ section of stores like Staples.

If there is something really important you want to give away, I recommend a lawyer to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

PS I am not a lawyer.

Charles's avatar

“I do have other valuables or accounts that I would want bequeathed (properly)”

You need to know my name and address.

There is software like WillMaker that you can use on your PC. Makes it pretty easy.

JLeslie's avatar

Life insurance, 401k’s you can set up with who gets the money if you die, that is aside from a will. You just list the beneficiary you want to get the money. Any other items you have you can write up a simple will. A lawyer would help you cover all the bases, and make sure you have a living will, and a health care proxy. This way if you cannot speak for yourself in a health emergency they would know who to contact, who is allowed to make health decisions for you. If you have none of these documents the law has rules, like a spouse automatically would decide for someone, and also inherit the bulk of the estate if you die. If you are not married it just deoends on the laws in your state, but things move slower without a will, the estate would be held in probate longer.

jca's avatar

I used to work for an estate planning attorney and I asked him who should have a will? He said if you own a house or property, or if you have children, you should definitely have one. I would think if you don’t own a house or property but you do have sizable assets, you should have one.

I am wondering if you do one of those wills on line but you don’t file it with the local surrogates’ court, is it still valid and legal?

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Good question. Maybe it would be up to the courts discretion to decide after the fact if it is to be considered a valid will.

john65pennington's avatar

You can go to Office Depot and buy a blank Last Will and Testament. Just fill in the blanks.

But, do not sign it, until you are in front of a Notary. All banks have a Notary that can witness you sign the Will and this makes it a legal document for court.

Here is why you should have a Will.

You win the Lottery. The next week, you suddently die in an auto accident. You have no will, so your money will go into Proabate Court. The court will receive a large chuck of your winnings. With a legal Will, your money will go to whomever you specify and leaves out Probate Court.

Life can be short,,,,fill out a Will.

JLeslie's avatar

FYI, the estate tax exemption was increased, you can now will up to $5million tax free.

anartist's avatar

Suzy somebody-or-other, a lawyer, used to have an inexpensive low cost will format that she hawked on TV. It was actually considered quite a good product. I have one.

Kayak8's avatar

Whatever method you do to create a Last Will and Testament, it needs to be filed in probate court!

Aqua's avatar

I think if you have anything you want divided to a specific person when you pass away, you should have a will. You can just make a holographic will, which is written in your own hand and signed and dated by you, but you need to check to make sure it’s valid where you live (it’s not valid in all states). It doesn’t need to be witnessed or notarized.

Holographic Wills:
-All in your own handwriting
-Date at top, signature at bottom
-Name a guardian, alternates, disposition of assets
-No notary or witnesses required
-Caution: Consult attorney about language
-Caution: Use only if you don’t have significant assets or a complicated family situation.

Here’s some examples of the type of language you should use:
In your own hand, write the date at the top of the page:

“I, (your full name), being over 18 years of age, of sound mind and not acting under duress, declare this my last will and testament, revoking all prior wills & codicils.

“I am married. My husband’s (wife’s) name is (full name). We have the following children, who are issue of our marriage: (list names & birth dates.) (Or state that you are single, no children.)

“I intend to dispose of all my property at the time of my death through this will.

“I give (list specific items & who you want them to go to).

“I give the residue of my estate to (if married, my husband/wife), (state full name). If (name) does not survive me, I give the residue to my minor children, to be distributed equally (per stirpes/capita).

“If any part of this will is invalid, such invalidity shall not affect any other provision.”

“My estate shall be administered by one Personal Representative. I nominate the following to serve as Personal Representative to administer my estate, to serve without bond in the order in which listed: (List about 3 people, in order of choice.)”

“My Personal Representative is authorized to do whatever is necessary to administer my estate.”

“I have intentionally omitted any existing heirs who are not specifically mentioned here. Any who shall contest this will shall receive only one dollar.

“If my spouse does not survive me, I nominate the following, in the order listed, to act as guardians of & conservators for my minor children: (List about two or three, in order of choice, the same as spouse’s list.)”

“In witness whereof, I voluntarily sign my name this day.”

Sign the document at the bottom and keep it in a place where it can be found and preserved. Make sure others know where it is. If you die and it’s hidden somewhere and never found, it won’t do you any good. Your spouse should do a similar document (if applicable).

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