How Should I Write a Will?

My biggest fear when flying is that the plane is going to crash.

I really hate the thought of Mr. A and I going together on the same flight.

If we crash and die together, we leave our two sons without parents.

To ease my anxiety over this, the least we can do is have a will in place, in the event my fears are precognitive.

I know, I know.  I have heard twice already from in real life friends if I’m afraid of dying I should already have a will in place because the chances of dying in an auto accident are higher than flying on a commercial jet. That’s beside the point. I’m not freaked out by the thought of driving my car down the road.  I do have anxiety over flying, so I may as well take this opportunity to get my will in order.

My first thought was to download a free template from the Internet.  But then I read something that said I shouldn’t just do a will myself.

So then I thought about Legal Zoom.  But the thought of spending $69 on something I could maybe do myself stopped me from starting.

Then I thought maybe the biggest problem with a do it yourself will and testament is the legality of it and holding up in court.

That won’t be an issue because we’ll be leaving everything to our two sons.  No one else in the family is going to start fighting to have our house or cars.

But there is Mr. A’s businesses.  The one business owns over $8000 in equipment, and could be sold.  The other business could be sold as well.  If Mr. A doesn’t have a will in place, what happens to his businesses?

It just seems prudent to state in a will that he is leaving them to our son.  Is that all that’s necessary?

Ideally, I know I should be talking to a lawyer about all this. But that costs money and I don’t have much time left before we leave on our vacation.  There’s a huge chance that nothing will happen and we’ll come back alive and well.  So I don’t want to spend a bunch of money just because I’m nervous about flying.

With the understanding that my readers aren’t lawyers, I’d just like to ask for your input on what you’ve done about a will.  Do you even have one?  Did you have a lawyer draw one up?  Or did you do it yourself?

Any tips on what all we need to include?

Thanks for helping me figure this out!

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15 comments to How Do I Make a Will?

  • Melissa

    I wrote up my own will loosely using a free template. It’s important to not get caught up in the legalese, but rather to make sure you have the major components of the will in place. Find several different sites that list out the major components, pull out a free template and adapt it to your situation. You’ll then want to have it signed and notarized (usually someone at your bank can be a notary.) Don’t use a family member to notarize it.

    Besides a will, however, one of the best things to do before you leave is to brief someone (perhaps the person you name executor of the will) about your finances. Let them know which banks you use, who your banker is, and where critical documents are kept. As the oldest child, my mother briefs me every year around Christmas about her and my father’s affairs. Some may think it is morbid to discuss the what-ifs of death, but if something were to happen, I know I’d be able to hit the ground running when it comes to sorting out the business.

    So, long story short, write up a basic will by focusing on the critical components rather than the legalese, notarize it, brief someone on your finances, and make it a point to meet with a lawyer sometime after your trip to draft a more permanent will.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Melissa, thank you for all the good suggestions. I finally got the wills done and it was much easier than I’d anticipated. I will be sure to brief my son on the particulars of our finances.

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  • I agree with Melissa on this. I think the most important thing is to start off with having the framework for your will in place – sort of following the “something is better than nothing concept.” I think it can be refined later down the road if needed.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Jacob, thanks for the reassurance. I just finished the wills and I’ll have them notarized on Tuesday so I can cross that off my list!

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  • I wrote up my Will my Suze Orman had a Will kit for free, along with a file on details of our finances. I have a set up a target (the day our networth hit a particular amount or when we have our kid) when we would meet with a lawyer to draft a “real” one.

    If there are businesses involved, I personally think a flat-fee Will/estate lawyer would be best here. For now, you could (1) make sure beneficiaries are up to date in all your bank/investments (2) make a Will from one of those templates and (3) make an appointment with a lawyer for when you return. If you like I could send you the information that was included in our Will Kit if that will make things easier for you…

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Suba, thank you. In the template I used it did mention businesses. Thank you for mentioning the Suze Orman will kit. It was one that I was looking at on Amazon.

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  • My husband and I have been married for 15 years and still don’t have a will. It’s one of my goals for this year and I have a little over 4 months to accomplish it. I even have the templates bought.

    We’ll get it done so I don’t have to write that I failed but don’t beat yourself up so much about not having one yet. Just make a deadline.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Kay Lynn, I cannot believe only four months until this year is over and done with!! I was dreading getting the wills done but once I finally sat down and started looking at them I realized all I really had to do was put in our names in a few places and just a few other things to fill out. Of course this is just a very simple last will and testament, but it is good enough to give me peace of mind that all my ducks are in a row.

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  • We had a lawyer do ours because we did a power of attorney and trust too. all told for all 3 documents for 2 people (6 documents total) we paid $350. but it was worth it.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Brandy, that actually sounds like a very reasonable price. I will keep that in mind for future reference. Thanks again!

    [Reply]

  • I have lots of questions about wills, and it is something my husband never wants to talk about. My main concern is that we have two small children, and a substantial amount of life insurance benefits. I think my main question revolves around who will get legal guardianship of my babies. I just don’t want them having to go through custody battles right after their parents pass away.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Sandy, if I were you, I’d click on the link for the free template, then select the married couple with dependent children will. Print it out, fill it in and see if you can get your husband to sign it just as a temporary measure to put your mind at ease. Even if you can’t agree to who should be the guardians of your children, at least put down what your husband would want so that your children will have someone to look after them if the unthinkable should happen. I know these things aren’t fun to think about, and I have gone most of my life without one, but we never know when something might happen. Good luck.

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  • Seth

    I’ve got the reverse problem of Sandy. My wife doesn’t like talking about these things. We don’t have children yet which would really concern me, but I do think we should have something in place. I’ll be checking the site you mentioned and see if we can’t get something together.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    @Seth, I don’t like talking about wills either, my husband thought I was being paranoid. And he was right, we did come back alive. 😉 I hope the site I linked to is helpful. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    [Reply]

  • […] months ago I saw a post on Out of Debt again about How to Make  a will. I made sure to save her post so I could refer back to it. Since I read that a couple of things […]

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