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Monday, 30 July 2012

Guest Post: First Steps In Creating A Will

It may seem far away and be depressing to think about, but the inevitable fact of life is that none of us are going to be around forever. When it comes down to it, what you ultimately want to do is to protect your family and prepare them for the future. Sitting down and writing a will to divide your assets can be tough and confronting, but writing and storing it away will eventually bring you and your family greater peace of mind.
If you’re unsure of where to begin, here are the first steps in creating a will.
Remember the logistics
Writing a will is a complex activity and it is probably best to use a lawyer or attorney to help you. If you want to write your own will, start with the basics. Firstly, clearly identify yourself by your name, address and birthday, and state that you are of sound mental health. Also remember to make a note that this is your final will and any other wills you may have written in the past are now invalid.
Then, appoint an executor of the will – this person will carry out your instructions and divide your estate as you wished. Choose an honest friend or lawyer and make sure they are aware of their role. Empower the executor to be in charge of paying your debts, funeral costs and taxes as well as authorising them to deal with your real estate.
List your assets and divide them – remember to include a residuary clause
It is important to list as many of your assets as you can and then assign them to the family members, friends or charities you wish them to go to.  It helps to divide your monetary wealth into percentages and divide it that way. If you have been through a separation or had to deal with divorce law, make sure you keep your will up to date.
Lastly, it’s important to include a residuary clause in your will. This takes everything that was not specifically listed in your will and divides it between your "residuary beneficiaries".
Sign it and store it in a safe place
Be sure to sign your will correctly and in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must note their full name and address. Although partners and beneficiaries of the will can be witnesses, it is better if you find people independent of the will to sign it. This will reduce the risk of any legal disputes later down the track.
Store the will in a safe place such as a safe or secure filing cabinet. Tell your executor where you have stored the will and entrust them with a copy.
Making a will is one of the most important things you can do, especially if you have a family. It ensures your children will be looked after and cared for in the way you wished. Think about the making of a will as a necessity – not a morbid exercise!

** This is a guest post written by Jodie Parker, who is passionate about helping others understand the legal system.  She currently works with non-profit organisations with keeping their legalities in order.

Watts McCray is a leading provider and specialist of family law services in Australia. With Accredited Specialists in Family Law, a strong emphasis on communication, and an understanding of people, Watts McCray provides you with a caring and supportive environment to help resolve your legal issues.

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