We all have heard or witnessed problems among family members regarding the distribution of property. Sometimes, it led to horrendous crime as well. The essential step you can take here to avoid such confusion and hassle after your death is to draft a will. A will lets you conclude what will happen to your assets and properties after death.
A lawyer or any law professional can help you to draft a will. But, involving a lawyer can be expensive. This brings people to the question of “how to make a will without a lawyer.” And indeed, you can make a will without a lawyer. Making a will without any professional may sound a bit daunting, but with a straightforward estate, it is pretty easy and cost-effective. Here are the details to help you get started.
What is a will?
Will is one of the essential legal documents that prioritize your wishes after death regarding the distribution of assets among heirs or custody of the minor child. You can make a will without a lawyer at any age but must consider having one after you have dependents or started earning.
Advantages of having a will
Let us have a look at the benefits of having a well drafted will.
1. Inform the loved ones about the distribution of your assets
The distribution of your purchases is entirely your choice. You are the one who can decide whom you want to have your support and property after your death. It can be your descendants or other dependents, or any beneficiaries. Some donate their properties for a noble cause as well. A will takes care of this by letting your loved ones know about your wishes.
2. Less stress and disputes for your beneficiaries
A will after your death can help your descendants settle everything quickly according to your wish without confusion. Not having a will can result in confusion between the descendants regarding the distribution of the assets and property.
3. You can have guardians for your children
If you have children of minor age, you should appoint a legal guardian through your will. Appointing a legal guardian is necessary to take care of your minor child and the property in your absence before they become adults. A legal guardian should be the one whom you can trust.
4. Paying less inheritance tax
A will can assist in reducing your inheritance tax and enhance your tax savings. Inheritance tax is the amount payable on the assets you leave behind. It is different for different jurisdictions, so it will be better to consult a professional for details.
Steps to create a will without a lawyer
Now the question may arise, can I create my own will without a lawyer, and how to probate a will without a lawyer? No one can stop you from creating a will of your own. But laws vary according to the state you reside in, so it is necessary to know about the laws. Some states accept handwritten wills; some allow typed ones. The steps for creating a will without a lawyer are as follows.
1. Understand how you want to make the will
To start writing your will, you must first select how you want to write your will. Both online and offline methods are available to help you write a will of your own. You can scribble your assets and wishes on blank paper and type in a new one. And you are done with the draft!
Otherwise, you can take help from online sources like “DIY will kit” and the “bank will form”. Dozens of websites offer cost-effective services with simple steps and guidelines. You will need to answer a list of questions to generate a “customized will” for you. It’s that simple!
2. Add necessary language to draft a valid will
While writing a will of your own, there are some criteria you need to follow to make your Will valid. These are as follows:
- State clearly that this is your last will.
- Mention your full legal name to ensure that the document belongs to you only.
- Mention that you are writing this document with a sound mind and without pressure from others.
These declarations will make the document valid as your last will. It will also clarify and restrict others from contesting your will in court. If you are taking the help of some online resources, they generally include the necessary legal language for you.
3. Go for a guardian for your minor children
Having a will is necessary if you have children below 18 years. A legal guardian is an individual having legal authority and responsibility to take care of your minor child in your absence till he becomes an adult. Look for a trustworthy person to mention as a legal guardian for your child. You can also add the name of a second individual as an alternate in case your first choice fails to fulfill its duties.
4. List down the assets you have
Listing down all the property helps you decide how you want to distribute your assets and will assure you do not miss out on something important. Your list must include:
- Physical assets that include your house, land property, or vehicle.
- Financial assets include your bank and retirement accounts, investments, life insurance, and hard cash.
While listing, write a clear description of the property along with minute details like the account number or registration number of the car to avoid confusion. It is necessary to mention that including the asset list in your will is not required.
5. Choose heirs for each of your assets
After listing your assets, choose the individuals and organizations you want to own your assets. These individuals are your “beneficiaries“. Mention the legal name of each beneficiary and for organizations, mention the EIN. While including names, add some basic details to avoid confusion. For example,
“I bequeath the following assets to Shri/Smt……(name), son/daughter/wife of………., resident of………(address).”
You can also add the names of secondary beneficiaries if you outlive the primary. For non-probate assets like a life insurance policy, you need to add the designations of the beneficiaries.
6. Choose a residuary beneficiary
The residuary beneficiary of your will receive the remainder of your asset. Any beneficiary will not claim the part of the property, or a residuary legatee will get a beneficiary. This legatee could be a charity or an organization.
7. Choose an executor
After you have selected your beneficiary, you need to choose an individual to take responsibility for executing your will. Your executor will ensure that they fulfill your last wishes. They’ll take care of the probate process and distribution of assets. If you didn’t mention any executor in your will, the court would appoint a person, generally a family member or a beneficiary, to be the executor.
8. Sign in front of the witness
Your will is not legally valid without your signature and witness. After completing the draft, you must sign your will before two witnesses. According to witnessing law, you will require two “disinterested” witnesses. Disinterested witnesses are individuals not included in the will. They can be anyone from your family members, friends, or any trustworthy person, even your lawyer himself.
Sample of how to make a will without a lawyer
Below is a sample Will format of how to make a will without a lawyer:
I, Shri/Smt ………………….. son/daughter/wife of Shri …………….., resident of …………………., by religion………….., do now revoke all my previous Wills (or) Codicils and declare that this is my last will, which I make on this …….(Date)………………… My Date of Birth is ………….
I declare that I am in good health and possess a sound mind. I make this will without any persuasion or coercion and out of my own independent decision only.
I appoint Shri………………….. Son/daughter of ……………, resident of ………to be the executor of this will. In the event Shri…………… where to predecease me, then Shri……………., will be the executor of this will.
I bequeath the following assets to my Wife, Smt……………..
- My house is at………(address)………
- Bank balance of my savings account no…………………..with ……………(bank name & bank address)………
- My bank fixed deposits in …….(bank name)…..bearing ……..(FD receipt nos)……..
- The proceeds of my Term insurance policy ….(Policy no)……, from…….(insurance company name)………
- The contents of the bank locker no………, with bank…………, bank address……………
I bequeath the following assets to my son Shri……………
- Residential Plot no…….., located …………….
- My car with registration no……….
- My mutual fund investments with folio numbers…………………..
- Any other asset not mentioned in this will but of which I am the owner.
I own all the above assets. No one else has rights to these properties.
Signature of Testator
We hereby attest that this will have been signed by Shri………….as his last will at ………(Place)……… in the joint presence of himself and us. The testator is in sound mind and made this will without any coercion.
Signature of Witness (1)
Signature of Witness (2)
The above structure is a sample will. Now, you know how to make a simple will without a lawyer. However, please note that there is no specific format for a will. You can consult a professional to prepare an exhaustive will by yourself.
Now you know how to probate a will without a lawyer, and it’s never a bad idea to go for a DIY will. If you are nervous about writing the Will on your own, you can always take the help of a professional. Hiring an experienced attorney is a good decision if you have any reservations regarding the Will you have prepared.
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Disclaimer- Clocr is not providing any legal advice, and the users must always consult a lawyer for proper guidance before coming to a conclusion.