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Tips for Making a Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is one of the essential parts of your estate plan and it is a document that every adult should implement. A will serves to provide details for how to distribute your assets after your death and it ensures that you care for your loved ones in the way you want. If you die without a will, the state will follow the laws regarding the distribution of your property, which may not be in accordance with your wishes. Luckily, it is not difficult to put a will in place to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of your death.

  • Make a list of assets that you have and name beneficiaries. If you fail to name specific beneficiaries you take a risk that your loved ones will not receive the property you want after your death. If you want someone to receive a specific item, you should spell it out in your will.
  • Designate someone to handle your affairs after your death. This person is your personal representative and will pay your bills and take care of your estate according to your wishes. You should make sure you tell the person ahead of time and give them a copy of your will.
  • Provide for someone to take legal guardianship of your children in the event you pass away. Discuss the matter with the designated person so they are aware of the situation, which will make it easier in the unlikely event of your death.
  • Avoid using templates because they may not completely protect you and your loved ones. Instead, get help from a reputable estate attorney. Your lawyer will ensure that your will is made properly so there is no confusion or the possibility for disputes later.
  • While it is always best to type your last will and testament, Wisconsin law does recognize a handwritten will. The will must be written completely in your handwriting and it requires witnesses and notarization the same as any other type of document.
  • Always make a written will, rather than a verbal one. A written will is the best way to make sure that your wishes are carried out in a legal way. You must also have the will notarized and get two people to witness your signature. If you don’t do this now it could make it more difficult for your loved ones.
  • Follow the laws of the state when you make out your will. Wisconsin law requires you to be at least 18 years old, and you must be of sound mind. You must have two witnesses and you must sign the document in their presence.
  • Keep in mind that there are some exceptions to inheritance by will. You should check with an experienced estate planning attorney to learn the details of the things you can and should include in your last will and testament.
  • Update your will whenever the need arises. For example, if your marital status changes or you have more children or grandchildren, you will want to make sure that you include your loved ones in your will. You should also make an update if you want to add a specific asset designation.
  • In addition to a will, you may also want to consider a living will. A living will provides details for how to handle your medical needs in the event you become incapacitated. It also designates someone to take care of your affairs while you are not able to do so yourself.

A last will and testament is a helpful document that will give you and your loved one’s peace of mind. To learn more about estate plans, contact our legal team or call us at (608) 784-8310.

Published December 28, 2020
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