A will is a legal document that is not effective unless properly prepared and executed. Individuals should not undertake to execute a will unless they are knowledgeable about the requirements of a legally enforceable will or have had the opportunity to consult legal counsel. The process of executing a will can be simple, but certain items should be kept in mind while going through the process.
- All wills should state what a testator wants done with his or her remains and whether the testator wishes a funeral and/or burial.
- All beneficiaries must be specifically named and amounts of bequests specified.
- Alternative beneficiaries should also be named in the event a designated beneficiary dies before the testator. If money or assets remain in the testator’s estate, an individual should be named to receive the remainder in specific dollar amounts or percentages.
- If a trust is established in the will, a trustee and an alternate trustee must be designated.
- All wills must designate an executor and an alternative executor who will carry out the instructions of the testator set forth in the will.
- If there are children, appoint a guardian and alternative guardian for any children under 18 years of age.
- A will should also provide that an executor, guardians and trustees will serve without bond.
- All wills and codicils should have a self-proving clause and signed and witnessed by 2 witnesses (who are over 18 and competent). All of them must sign before a notary.
Remember: The above list is NOT an exhaustive list of all of the “in’s” and “out’s” of drafting a will. It is often wise to consult an attorney before doing so.