The Process for Creating a Will (Part 4)

August 29, 2019

The Process for Creating a Will and the Importance of Executor Choice

BY:  Ned Hamil, Chairman Deermeadows Baptist Permanent Endowment Fund Committee

Part 4

How Do I Go about getting started to create my Will?

This process does not have to be complex. An attorney can suggest language that deals with the bulk of your assets and then create separate language that deals with tangible personal items of financial or sentimental value.

When you are ready to prepare a will, compile a list of your assets and debts. Be sure to include the contents of safe deposit boxes, items of sentimental value, family heirlooms and other assets that you wish to transfer to a particular person or entity. Don’t let this task delay you from getting started. The exercise will, however, be helpful to your attorney in determining the complexity of your assets and some indication of the cost.

If your estate is substantial (ranging in the millions of dollars) or your situation is legally complex, you will need to enlist an attorney. If so, be sure to work with someone who is familiar with your state's laws and has experience writing wills. If you go to an attorney—expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand, depending on the complexity of your assets. 

How Can I Change My Will?

Changing your will is permitted. Simply have a new will prepared to replace the old one, or make a change to the existing will by using an amendment known as a codicil. Remember that making a new will or codicil requires all the formalities of a will required by law, including witnesses, etc. You have to make any changes while you are of sound mind. This limits the likelihood that your wishes can be successfully challenged and avoids decisions made in haste or under intense emotional pressure. 

Changes in family situations such as death, disability, divorce and other life events may dictate a change. If any of these events occur do not procrastinate and act promptly.

What Do I Do with My Will Once It's Done?

Creating your will is the first step in a two-step process. The second step is putting your will in the hands of your executor, professional advisor or giving exact instructions to some responsible person before your death as to where tour original will can be found. Remember, your wishes can only be carried out if they are known. Putting your will in capable hands ensures that it will be available when it is needed. Let’s spend a couple of minutes discussing an executor. Perhaps the topic of choosing an executor should have been discussed at the beginning of the series. Let’s talk a little about how to choose an executor.

Choose the Right Executor

It’s very important to name a responsible person as the executor of your will.

An executor is the person who will be handling the transactions, payment of your debts, satisfaction of your bills, and the distribution of your assets per your will.

It’s a big job, so choose carefully. This is the person who will oversee the process and make sure your wishes are carried out. Many times people name an executor in their will but do not advise the executor. It is a great idea to provide the executor with a copy of your will and discuss the provisions of the will to insure the intent is clear. The choice of an executor is not cast in stone. You can always change executors for a variety of reasons death, disability, a declamation to serve etc. You can also name a successor executor in case your executor is unable to serve.

Store it in a Safe Place

Once the will is completed, store it in a safe place in your home or a safety deposit box at the bank. And let the executor know where it is and how to get access to it, when the time comesIf the will is drawn by an attorney a copy is always available even if the attorney changes firms, retires or does not survive you.

The Bottom Line

Making a will is a necessary – and, usually, fairly simple process – that can save your family time, money, and grief, as well as give you peace of mind. Now is a really good time start the process. Remember that procrastination or “just never got around to it” creates severe headaches and expenses for the love ones you leave behind. Even if you have a will, periodic reviews are important to be sure it is up to date with any law changes or changes in family status.

If you are one of the 45% who do not have a will………… is a good day to start that process.

Pick up the phone and call your family lawyer and ask for an appointment. If you do not have an attorney or do not know an attorney there are plenty of sources to get a referral or reference.

Disclaimer:  This information is not to be considered as legal, financial or investment advice.  One should contact their CPA, Financial Advisor or attorney to determine appropriate actions for your individual situation.  You may feel free to contact a member of the Deermeadows Endowment Committee for general information about the topics discussed.

Sources for this article (s) include a variety of publications and articles

CATEGORIES: Legacy Giving