A last will and testament is a legal document that dictates how your assets will be distributed after you die. It allows you to appoint a guardian for your minor children, designate beneficiaries for your property, and make other important decisions about your estate.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about last will and testaments, including how to create one, what to include in it, and how to update it over time, among others.
How to create a last will and testament
Creating a last will and testament in Southlake or wherever you are located is an important step in ensuring that your wishes are carried out after you die. Though it may seem like a daunting task, crafting a last will and testament is actually quite simple, so long as you follow a few key steps.
- Choose an executor– The first step in creating a last will and testament is to choose someone who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes after you die. This person, known as the executor, will be in charge of managing your estate, paying your debts, and distributing your assets according to your wishes.
- Gather your assets– The next step is to take inventory of all your assets, including your bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate, personal property, and life insurance policies. This will give you a clear picture of what you have to distribute after you die.
- Make a list of your debts– In addition to your assets, you’ll also need to make a list of all your outstanding debts, including mortgage payments, credit card balances, and personal loans. This will ensure that your debts are paid off before your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries.
- Choose your beneficiaries– Once you’ve gathered your assets and debts, you’ll need to decide who will receive your assets after you die. These people, known as beneficiaries, can be family members, friends, or even charities.
- Write your last will and testament– The final step is to put your wishes in writing. When drafting your last will and testament, be sure to include your executor’s name, your beneficiaries’ names, and a list of your assets and debts. You’ll also need to sign the document in front of two witnesses.
How to update a last will and testament
Your last will and testament is a legal document that should be updated whenever there are changes in your life, such as getting married, having children, or buying a new piece of property.
- Review your last will– The first step in updating your last will is to review the document to make sure that it still accurately reflects your wishes. If you’ve had any major changes in your life since you last updated the document, then it’s likely that some of the information in it is no longer accurate.
- Make changes to your last will and testament– Once you’ve reviewed your last will and testament and determined that changes need to be made, you can either amend the existing document or create a new one altogether. If you decide to amend the existing document, be sure to initial and date the changes.
- Have your last will and testament witnessed– After you’ve made the necessary changes to your last will, it’s important to have the document witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries of the estate. This ensures that the document is legally binding.
- Store your last will in a safe place– Once your last will and testament is complete, you’ll need to store it in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box. You should also give copies of the document to your executor and beneficiaries.
What to do if you lose your last will and testament
If you lose your last will and testament, don’t panic. There are a few steps you can take to try to locate the document.
- Check common hiding places– The first step is to check any common hiding places where you might have stored the document, such as a fireproof safe, a safety deposit box, or a locked drawer in your desk.
- Contact your attorney– If you can’t find your last will, the next step is to contact the attorney who helped you draft the document. They may have a copy on file.
- Check with the court– If you still can’t find your last will and testament, you can check with the court where it was filed. The court may have a copy of the document on file.
- Draft a new last will and testament– If you’ve exhausted all other options and still can’t find your last will, you’ll need to draft a new one. Be sure to include all of your assets and debts, as well as your beneficiaries. You’ll also need to have the document witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries of the estate.