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Making a will in an important step in your financial management program. To save your heirs time and money, plan now for the orderly transfer of your property.

In this way the cost of a bond and possible disagreement among those who are to receive your property may be avoided. You decide to whom, when, and in what amounts your assets should go. You select your executor or personal representative, the one who shall be responsible for the disposition of the estate. You may avoid forced sale of your property, or costly and tedious applications to courts for the right to sell it. You have greater assurance that your plans will be carried out as you desire.

Without a will your estate must be distributed according to the Intestates' Estates and Property Charges Act, the provisions of which are general and inflexible. The law will say who shall administer your estate, among whom, and how it shall be divided. By losing the privilege of naming your executor or personal representative, you may make a costly mistake. Your property may not be distributed as you wish, and thus cause hardship for those you want to safeguard most. Without a will you lose the privilege of naming a guardian for your minor children. This is vital, particularly if your spouse should not survive you. If you leave no immediate family, failure to leave a will may result in your property going to persons in whom you have no particular interest.


Wills are not do-it-yourself projects. Secure the services of an attorney. Although many wills prepared without legal aid have been successfully executed, the risk is too great. A minor detail may invalidate your good intentions.

Probate

Probate is a court proceeding in which final debts are settled and legal title to property is formally passed from the deceased person called the “decedent” to his or her heirs. A probate case is filed in the county of the decedent's legal residence at the time of his or her death.

Preparing Your Will

A document that will be appropriate in court, if necessary, and be fitting to meet the needs of your family, must first be thought out carefully by you, and then expertly prepared by a lawyer who specializes in will drafting and estate planning. The lawyer can guide you to the best decisions but only after obtaining all the facts given by you. Thus, you can be confident that your will is properly phrased, witnessed, and has all the technicalities observed.

Start by making a list of everything you own and all you owe - a statement that will show exactly where you stand financially. Decide to whom you will lave your real and personal property. Do it systematically. Be certain you have stated just what your wishes are by making a list of the persons involved, their relationship to you, your objectives, when their inheritance is to be given, and how it is to be provided - through a trust fund, life insurance trust, etc., and the source of the funds, whether from the general estate or proceeds of insurance policies. Take this list to the lawyer who is counseling with you.

Select an executor, executrix or personal representative to administer the will. This may be the beneficiary who will inherit the bulk of your estate, a member of the family, your legal or financial advisor, a trusted friend or business associate. You should name a contingent executor or personal representative to act in case your first selection dies before you, or is unable to serve.

It is important that you name a guardian if you have minor children.

When you consult the attorney, ask for a rough draft of your will and study it carefully before signing the final copy.

Signing your will
A will must be written, signed by the testator (maker) and witnesses. The original copy is the legal document and must be signed. You may wish to have unsigned carbon copies available for your convenience.

While the law permits a beneficiary to witness a will, it is recommended that a beneficiary witness be used only when a disinterested party is not available, in order to avoid future challenges as to conflict.

If the witnesses and the testator execute an affidavit before a Notary Public, it will not be necessary for either of the witnesses to appear in Surrogate Court at the time of Probate. Your attorney will prepare an Affidavit for signatures.

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