1. Determine if You Need A Will.  Most individuals and families will need some form of estate planning in place in the event of their demise. A Will is an estate planning tool that requires court supervision to administer your estate upon your demise in most circumstances – meaning your heirs or beneficiaries will usually have to initiate court proceedings to collect assets left in your Will.  ALWAYS speak with an attorney before executing a Will, or any estate planning documents, to determine the best estate plan for you and your family.
  2. Have Capacity!  In most states, an individual must be 18 years or older and have capacity to make a Will.  Capacity typically requires that the person executing a Will has the ability to identify the assets in their estate, identify their heirs, or the persons they are leaving their property to and understand they are disposing of their property upon their demise by creating a Will.
  3. Select An Executor You Trust.  An executor is the individual responsible for administering your estate, and has access to all of your assets upon your passing.  It is important to choose an executor you trust to handle your assets in a professional manner, as they will be held accountable to beneficiaries and the court for the actions they take in administering your estate.
  4. Have 2 Witness Present When Signing Your Will.  It is best practice to have 2 witness present when signing a Will, although this is not always required.  The witnesses should be disinterested, meaning not a beneficiary of the Will.  Witnesses should sign the the presence of the testator, or person executing the Will, under penalty of perjury of the laws of the state that the Will is being signed.
  5. Sign the Will.  Remember to sign your Will and date it!  Will contests are a frequent occurrence in courts of all states,  even if there are no contest clauses included in the Will!  Signing a Will in the presence of two (2) disinterested witnesses provides validity to the Will if later contested.

By Verleana D. Green, Esq.- Owner, Law Offices of Verleana D. Green

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