In the U.S., more than 800,000 people have already died because of the coronavirus. More than 20,000 of these people belong to the millennials, those ages 25-40 and born between 1981 and 1996, and half of the Gen Z, those ages 18-24 and born between 1997 and 2003, according to the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker.
In fact, the WSJ revealed that 32% of people who wrote their will in 2020 were aged 35 and below. These young people cited the pandemic as their main reason for writing their will even when they’re less likely to die any soon. Because of this, lawyers have become busier than they did in recent years.
Importance of Having a Will
The pandemic has indeed, highlighted the importance of having a will. Before the pandemic, just 46% of adults have a will, according to the WSJ. Now the number is increasing.
Having a will benefits you and your loved ones. You can leave specific instructions about funeral arrangements, avoiding further distress on your family because of your death. If your children still haven’t reached adulthood, you can name a guardian for them. Most importantly, you can leave instructions on how your assets and properties, including your intellectual properties, can be distributed.
Unfortunately, the WSJ also revealed that many Americans put off writing their will because they believe it’s costly and labor-intensive. Let this article help you draft your own will. You can have it checked by a lawyer later on. Here are the steps to help you draft your will.
Draft the Initial Document
Start with the title of your document. It should aptly read “Last Will and Testament.” It should include your full name and address.
Follow it with a declaration paragraph, stating your legal age. Declare that this is your official last will and testament, revoking all previously made wills. Include that you wrote this will voluntarily and that you were not forced to do it.
Assign an Executor
Assign who will be your executor. An executor is a person who will manage and distribute your assets and properties. The WSJ suggests naming your financial advisor or lawyer as your executor to avoid legal problems in the future. You should also appoint an alternative executor in case your initially designated one is no longer available by the time of your death.
Designate a Guardian
If you have children who are still minors by the time of your passing, you should designate who will watch over and take care of them until they turn 18. This could be useful if your surviving spouse is unfit to do this.
You should discuss this with your children, spouse, and potential guardian. This will avoid any surprises in the event of your death. You should also designate an alternative guardian in case the original one is no longer available upon your death.
Name the Beneficiaries
Name who will inherit your assets and properties after your death. It’s important to note that naming your beneficiaries is different from distributing your assets to them. That is a separate section of your will.
Make sure to state the full names of your beneficiaries to avoid legal conflicts.
Distribute the Assets
This section includes who will get what and what will go to whom. In some states, a surviving spouse is entitled to a percentage of your assets and properties.
Before distributing your assets, make a list of everything you own, including your intellectual properties — copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Consult with an IP firm to understand which of these intellectual properties belong to you personally or your business. For copyrights, make sure that you’ll focus on those that have a monetary value.
Assign Witnesses to Sign Your Will
When your will is done, assign two witnesses, who are over 18-years-old and were not mentioned in your will as beneficiaries to sign it.
Wills are not required to be notarized in most states. However, it’s best to ask your witnesses to sign a self-proving affidavit as proof of their identity and signature. Signing such a document will not require them to appear in court to prove that they were the ones who signed as your witnesses.
When your will has all the signature it requires, make sure to keep it in a safe place where your executor can retrieve it when the time comes.
As a precaution, review and renew your will every two to three years.
Write It While You Still Can
You don’t have to be old and rich to create your will. In times of uncertainty and crisis, it would be helpful to have a testament that will distribute your assets when you die. Most especially though, you’ll be at peace knowing your properties will go to the right hands and that your children will have someone to look after them, even when you’re gone.