Let’s look at the steps to writing a will. The hardest part of writing a will is often finding the will to write it. After all, it’s a document you hope won’t be used for a long time – plus, it makes you think of your own death. By writing a will, you’re acknowledging that you may not be immortal. Add in the many other activities that are more fun than writing a will, like going to the beach or hanging out with friends and family, and you have a surefire recipe for procrastination.

If you’ve been putting off the task, here’s your chance to cross it off your list. Get started now, and get started on writing a will in eight relatively easy steps.

Writing A Will In Eight Easy Steps

writing a will, wills, estate planning, how to write a will1. Lawyer, online software or do it yourself? Because there are so many opportunities to make mistakes, don’t opt for a DIY will. One of the best examples arguably lies with the late Warren Burger. You’d think a Supreme Court justice would have no problem writing his own will, but he made an array of errors that cost his heirs plenty in legal fees and more than $450,000 in taxes. No matter how little you think you’ve got, or how much you think you know, always seek legal advice. It’s a complex area of the law and any mistake can cause conflict and expense for those you leave behind.

2. Select your beneficiaries. When you die, someone is going to get your money, your house, your car, your jewellery, your furniture and everything else you own. You probably won’t have to think long about beneficiaries, unless your family structure is complicated. As you go through life, your family is likely to get more complicated: marriage, children, divorce, step-children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and more are likely to come along. That’s why you should get to writing a will every five years or so.

3. Choose the executor of your will. This person is tasked with making sure the wishes in your will are carried out, so you’ll want to choose someone who is responsible and trustworthy. Never choose someone who is dishonest, nasty or incapable. The executor will have enormous obligations in their role, and can be held personally liable if they make mistakes. A safe option is to choose your lawyer who can be trusted to do a thorough job.
 4. Pick a guardian for your kids. Do you need to get permission from your friend or family member before appointing them guardian? No, you do not, but asking is a good idea. Nothing could be more surprising than discovering you are suddenly the legal guardian of someone else’s kids. There’s also the risk that they’ll refuse, and since you’ll be dead, you won’t be able to consider a back up plan.  A court will choose the guardian, and the person/s the court chooses may not be what you’d have wanted.
5. Be specific about who gets what. If you want your wedding gown to go to your daughter or your vintage motorbike to go to your son, put that down. Many estate battles begin over something of sentimental value.

Also explain in the will why someone isn’t receiving money, if you decide that one child will get more, for example. If you’ve given one child a lot of financial assistance as an adult and the other virtually none, you may want to leave the bulk of your assets to the one you didn’t help. Explaining that could assuage hard feelings after you’re gone.

writing a will, wills, estate planning, how to write a will6. Other people need to sign the will. In Queensland, to be a valid will, it must be: in writing, signed by the will maker, and witnessed by two people. When wills are signed incorrectly, they can become invalid. That’s when an estate battle can erupt.

7. Find a place for your will. Don’t just throw it in a shoe box and forget about it. What if the unthinkable happens and your heirs need it? Make sure someone you trust knows where to find your will as well as any other important papers and passwords to financial institutions like banks. And it’s probably a good idea to store the original copy somewhere secure, like in a fireproof safe.

8. Now that you’re done, you aren’t done. Assuming this is still an unfinished part of your agenda, you should work on a power of attorney and an advance health directive in case you’re ever incapacitated. You should also think about updating your will every four or five years, because your circumstances are likely to change.

 We can help you with writing a will – and we’re experts. We make sure you think of everything, and consider every what-if scenario. For your free, 10-minute phone consultation, contact us today.