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By Nicholas Fagan
Contemplation about your death is never pleasant, but doing the wise thing by foreseeing the possible circumstances of your demise and impact on your family is an honorable act. A last will is a document/form that will ensure your wishes are upheld upon your death.
The most important reason why you probably want to make a perfect last will and testament is because you want your loved ones to inherit your precious wealth. You can also use a last will to determine whom the legal guardian(s) for your children will be. A tax efficient last will can help ensure your wealth is mainly transferred to your loved ones by allowing you to name an executor of your will. The executor will ensure the application of the will.
There are a few basic things you should consider while making your will. Make your will at a young age before your so old or become so senile that it could be argued you were too mentally incompetent to execute your last will and testament. Also, remember to always date your last will since a newer last will always cancels out the older last will and testament. Finally, its best to keep your last will as simple, precise, and as easy to read/understand as possible.
Whomever the will is for (the “testator”) must sign their last will and testament in the company of at least two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the will and can attest to it. Each page of the last will and testament must be signed by the testator, numbered, and dated accordingly (any corrections must be countersigned).
It is best to keep the will in a safe place you and the beneficiaries know about; typically this is a bank vault. Any signed copies can be held by an advocate. Codicils can be attached to it and read out to make changes in the will. Although, if there are too many changes it’s best just to write a new will.
The main contents of the will are:
1) Name and home address
2) Short descriptions of your assets
3) An alternative beneficiary in case the first one becomes deceased before you.
4) Gifts to people
5) If desired, the cancellation of debts
6) Name of the executor to manage your estate
7) Name of the guardian to look after your minor child(ren).
8) Your signature
9) And, the two witnesses signature’s
Appointing a guardian is important if you have minor children. If you do not appoint a guardian the state will appoint one for you and this can mean CPS (Child Protective Services) in some cases. The guardian for the minor must be over 18 years of age. The guardian must also be previously consulted about your decision to appoint him/her as the guardian.
An executor’s job is to pay off taxmen, creditors, cancel credit cards, subscriptions and distributes the testator’s assets according to his/her will. The executor can be a spouse, a friend of yours, a family member, a trust company, or a lawyer.
You could start getting ready to write your will today by taking an inventory of your assets, and who receives them. Consider your family’s future liabilities in the case of death, and decide for yourself if you want to do the honorable act.
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