According to statistics, approximately just 30% of Americans actually have a will, despite the obvious benefit. Having a will is the only way you can truly be assured that your estate will be distributed exactly the way you desire.
Failure to have a will in place prior to your death means administration and disposition of your estate will be taken over by the state. Every state has its own laws that direct what happens to property when someone dies intestate (without a valid will) and the property was not left in some other way (such as in a living trust). If you do not want to risk this happening, you should draw up a will.
You do not have to spend a lot of money writing a will. It is an easy and inexpensive process. For a will to be legal, the document must meet only 4 requirements:
- It must expressly state that it is your will
- It must be typewritten or computer-generated
- It must be signed and dated
- It must be witnessed by 2 or 3 witnesses. These witnesses must be people who do not stand to gain anything from the will, and are not named in the will as heirs or beneficiaries.
Although you can write a perfectly legal will on your own, it is a good idea to have a lawyer help you. This will ensure that there are no legal problems after your passing. You should keep a copy of the completed will in a secure place outside of your home, for example, with your attorney. It is not a good idea to store your will in a safety deposit box at a bank, since the contents of the box may be sealed and therefore inaccessible at the time of death. Be sure your executor knows the location of your will.