Unfortunately (or gladly?), there are still no methods to provide immortality, and that is why we all care about our legacy so much. We do not want it to end up in the wrong hands. Most likely, you will leave your belongings and savings to your spouse, kids, other family members, close relatives, or friends. But the truth is, you never know for sure what happens today or tomorrow. So, it is a smart move to prepare some legal documents describing your final will and wishes concerning your property in advance.
Some people consider creating such forms a challenging procedure. However, there are many instruments available online, including FormsPal, that anyone can use if they want to prepare their last will.
Below, we will tell you more about such forms and provide you with the basic rules you should follow when comprising the will in the United States.
What Laws Are Applicable In The United States?
There is no unified law that regulates inheritance and succession in the US. You have to explore state laws on a case-by-case basis. It is important to mention that you should read all the laws (federal, state, and county) that have jurisdiction over the place where your property is located. If you have properties overseas, you definitely should consult with a foreign lawyer to define how to transfer such properties and how to follow the taxation procedures by local rules.
Each state law provides details on the matter, but there are certain things in common. For example, it is better if your will is performed in a written form (not oral), and someone else must sign it besides you (typically, two witnesses are required). Additionally, anyone creating the document has to be an adult, which means you have to be older than 18 years and be of sound mind in the United States.
Always remember to read the laws of your state when preparing any legal document. It is necessary so that you would not make any mistakes and render the document invalid.
So, What Will I Write In My Will?
There is a set of items obligatory for every such form wherever you sign it. Among them are:
- The Name and Residency
You should write your name and the city, county, and state where you reside.
- The Representative’s Name
You have to appoint someone as your representative so they can act and manage properties on your behalf. You must trust this person like yourself. It can be one of your heirs; many people prefer choosing their spouses or children (if they are adults already).
You must think of everything you own and transfer all of your properties when creating the document.
It concerns people who will receive your assets after your passing. You have to define who receives what and include each relevant heir in the list.
You are free to include any conditions you want if such conditions do not contradict the law.
You must provide your signature to ensure the form’s validity. Moreover, in most US states, two witnesses should be present when you are signing the will and sign it after you. It is a good idea to notarize a will, as it will help the witnesses avoid probate in the future.
We advise you to think of all the conditions and people to designate in advance. You can use online tools to get the template and fill it out quickly. It will make your life much easier.
What Should I Do Besides Making a Document?
Even though drafting your testament on paper is not that hard, you still might need a lawyer for consultancy and a notary public to verify signatures. If you do not consider several peculiarities, your document may be declined or regarded invalid in the future, and in such a case, the state will administer your estate and decide who gets what.
Can I Make Corrections to the Form or Revoke It?
Of course. Things in your life may change; for example, you can get divorced and enter new matrimony, and your ex-spouse will probably not be the recipient of your estate. Another example: you can move to another country or another state. Your form will not necessarily be valid if you had created it in one state and then moved to another.
So, if any significant event that changes your will has occurred in your life, always remember to revoke your previous will and prepare a new one or attach a codicil stating the changes.
Completing the annulment procedure is quite easy: since your will is in a written form, you can either eliminate the paper itself in an accessible way (cut it in pieces by shredder, set it on fire, and so on) or state in your next will that all previous documents should be considered invalid.
Bit of History
If you wonder how current norms came into force and how people used to regulate inheritance matters in the United States years ago, you can refer to the article outlined by the US Library of Congress. The article describes the basics of the Colonial period inheritance law and legislation related to the Twentieth century. It will help you understand the roots of the laws that are effective in the US today.
Are There Other Documents I Can Prepare?
Yes, there are plenty of other unpleasant things besides death that may also occur. Regrettably, a person can suffer from a severe illness or get in an accident that can make them incapable of making any decisions regarding their health, property, finances, and other vital matters.
Diseases or accidents are not something that one plans, so we strongly recommend thinking of such useful legal documents as:
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Living Will (Advance Directive)
The first one allows you to decide who can dispose of your estate and money in advance. The second one can delegate to somebody you trust decisions tied to your health care and medical services you might receive if you become incapacitated. Both templates are also available online at FormsPal, and you can quickly learn about them and create your own papers.