Make Your Own Last Will & Testament
If you die without making a will, you will have no control over how your property is distributed amongst your family and friends, or over who takes care of your minor children after your death. These matters will be determined by state law.
Furthermore, the value of your estate could be reduced by the costly legal and professional fees usually associated with dying without a will (dying intestate).
“Make Your Own Last Will and Testament” includes a plain English review of the matters you need to consider when making a will, and includes all of the instructions and template forms necessary to make your own will. It will show you how to:
- Leave money and property to your loved ones.
- Avoid intestacy.
- Appoint guardians for your children.
- Save on legal fees and probate.
- Much more.
Before explaining how this book can help you, let’s take a quick look at why you need a last will & testament and what happens if you die without making a valid last will. Unfortunately, the consequences of dying intestate are all too familiar to many people:
- You will have not control over how your assets are distributed after your death – your assets will be distributed in accordance with state law and your wishes will not be taken into account.
- You will have no control over who cares for your minor children – a court will decide who is appointed as guardian of your children.
- You will have no control over the long-term management of inheritances received by your children – you can, for the most part, only make these arrangements using a last will and testament or living trust. If you have not made such arrangements, a court will appoint someone (usually a family member) to manage any inheritances that your children receive. That may not be someone you would want to see managing the finances of a lemonade stand……let alone your children’s future.
- You will have no control over who wraps up your affairs after you die – state law will determine who is appointed as your personal representative and who will be responsible for closing your estate. That could be a family member, a creditor or even a court appointed executor. It could also be someone that you would not want going through your affairs, papers, bank accounts and more. The only way you avoid this is by choosing someone you are comfortable with in your will.
- Your estate will probably end up paying higher legal and processional fees – if you don’t make a will, your estate will have to go through an intestate administration process. The legal and professional fees associated with going through that process can be higher than if you had made a will and went through a simplified probate process. These fees will be deducted from your estate and that will, in turn, reduce the value of your estate that your beneficiaries receive.
Making a will is the only way for you to take control over all of these matters and to properly provide for the distribution of your assets to your family and friends in the manner you want. Fortunately, thousands of prudent people in America avoid these and other similar problems every year by simply taking the time to make a will. These people sleep soundly in the knowledge that their estate will be distributed as they see fit and that their children will be taken care of. “Make Your Own Last Will and Testament” offers you a simple solution to enable you to join this sensible group of people.
We have taken our years of estate planning experience and knowledge and created a simple book that will guide you through the entire process of making a last will & testament. “Make Your Own Last Will & Testament” is a must read for anybody seriously thinking about making a will.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – About Wills
What is a Will?
Basic Components of a Will
Types of Wills
Testamentary Trust Wills
The Difference Between Wills and Living Wills
Do You Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?
Chapter 2 – Making a Valid Will
What is a Valid Will?
Age of Majority
Format of a Will
Signing of a Will
Having a Will Witnessed
Notarizing a Will
Chapter 3 – Wills and Intestacy
Why Everyone Needs a Will
Do I Have to Make a Will?
How Can a Will Save Me Money?
Intestacy and What Happens if You Don’t Make a Will?
Apportionment and Distribution of Assets on Intestacy
Intestacy and Same Sex Partners
Estate and Inheritance Taxes
Chapter 4 – Gifts and Beneficiaries
What is a Gift?
Specific Item Gifts
What is a Beneficiary?
Types of Beneficiaries and Hierarchy of Distribution
Specific Gift Beneficiary
Who May Not Be a Beneficiary?
Gifts to Spouses
Community Property States
Common Law States
Gifts to Minors
A Family Pot Trust
Gifts to Charities
Gifts to Witnesses
Releasing Someone from a Debt
Common Disaster and Simultaneous Death
Disinheriting Your Spouse
Disinheriting Your Child
No Contest Clauses
Challenging a Will
Reducing Challenges to a Will
Chapter 5 – Appointing Executors
What is an Executor?
Overview of Executors’ Duties
What Precisely Does an Executor Do?
Probate of an Estate
Grant of Probate
Who is Entitled to Act as an Executor?
Who Should be Your Executor?
Naming an Out-of-State Executor
Cash Reserves During Probate Administration
Chapter 6 – Guardians and Children
What is a Guardian?
Sole and Joint Guardians
Appointment of a Guardian
Who Can Be a Guardian?
Should I Appoint Guardians for My Minor Children?
Considerations When Choosing a Guardian For Your Child
What Happens When No Guardian is Named in Your Will?
Leaving an Inheritance for Children
Management of Children’s Property
What Happens Without Property Management?
Options for Property Management
Appointment of a Property Guardian
Uniform Transfer to Minors’ Act
Children’s and Family Pot Trusts
Whom Should You Choose as a Trustee?
Chapter 7 – Estate Planning
What is Estate Planning?
Last will and Testament
Revocable Living Trusts
Pay-on-Death and Transfer-on-Death Accounts
Probate Free Transfers of Assets
Reducing Taxes on Your Estate
Planning for Incapacity
Power of Attorney for Finance & Property
Advance Healthcare Directives
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Chapter 8 – Estate Taxes
Federal Estate Tax
State Death Tax
State Estate or Death Taxes: Paid by the Estate
State Inheritance Taxes : Paid by the Recipient of Property
Other Ways to Reduce Estate Taxes
Lifetime Gifts to Children and Grandchildren
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
Family Limited Partnerships
Qualified Family Owned Business (QFMOB)
Special Use Real Estate Valuation
Chapter 9 – Getting Organized and Making Your Will
Before You Start Check Out Some Online Will Packs
Appoint One or More Executors
Appoint a Testamentary Guardian for Your Minor Children
What If You Own Property Overseas?
Execute Your Will in the Prescribed Fashion
Consider Related Documentation
Cash Reserves During Administration
Location of Will
Chapter 10 – When Do I Need to Make My Will
The Power of Now!
What Happens Next?
Always one of two things!
So, When Should I Make a Will?
Chapter 11 – Changing Your Will
How to Change Your Will Using a Codicil
How Often Should I Review My Will?
Keep Your Will Updated!
Revocation of a Will
Appendix 1 – Glossary of Terms
Appendix 2 – Estate Planning Worksheet
Appendix 3 – Sample Wills
Appendix 4 – General Instructions for Completing Your Will
Appendix 5 – Specific Instructions for Completing Your Will
Appendix 6 – Self Proving Affidavit – Type 1
Appendix 7 – Self Proving Affidavit – Type 2
Appendix 8 – Additional Clauses
The following forms are included with this book:-
- Last Will & Testament for a single person with no children
- Last Will & Testament for a single person with children
- Last Will & Testament for a person who is married (or in a registered domestic partnership) without children
- Last Will & Testament for a person who is married (or in a registered domestic partnership) and has children
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- Advanced Features – Your documents will contain advanced lawyer-approved provisions not usually found in standard run-of-the-mill documents you find online.
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