No one likes to think about their own death, but preparing end-of-life documents, such as a last will and testament, can give you great peace of mind now, knowing your wishes will be followed when you're gone.
A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children.
To maximize the likelihood that your wishes are carried out, you want a will that is set forth in writing, and signed by you and your witnesses. If your will does not meet these standards, your instructions may not be carried out.
Even if you think you don't have many assets or that your estate will automatically go where you want upon your death through your state's intestacy laws (which kick in when someone dies without a will), making a last will and testament can assure that your exact preferences will be followed after your death.
By having a Will, you will also be doing your loved ones a favor, as they won't have to guess what you might have wanted.
For those with a child, a Will is the perfect way to detail what you intend to leave for each child and any other heir you have. This way there is no fighting or confusion within the family with regard to the management of your estate.
A self-proving will, also know as testamentary will, is the traditional type of will with which most people are familiar. It is a formally prepared document that is signed in the presence of witnesses.
Holograph wills are written without the presence of witnesses. They rarely hold up in court.
Oral Wills are spoken testaments given before witnesses. They are not widely recognized from a legal perspective.
A living will has nothing to do with the distribution of assets, but rather sets forth your wishes for medical care in terms of life support should you be incapacitated.
When you are ready to prepare a will, compile a list of your assets and debts. Be sure to include everything you can think of including the contents of any safe deposit boxes, items of sentimental value, family heirlooms and other assets that you wish to transfer to a particular person or entity.