Most people first hear about simple wills after asking a pure question. Can you do your own will for free? The answer is yes, and simple wills are the solution.
These are nothing more than a basic will, and most people can do them at home. But, having one of them will help you accomplish three things. First, they’ll let everyone know where you’d like your personal property and assets to go after you pass away.
You’ll also designate who will carry out the will. Naming a guardian for children is even a possibility.
What Is A Simple Will?
Simple wills create a legal guide for people to follow after someone passes away. With a simple will, you can ensure that your assets are given to who you wish to have them.
A person will also need to be your executor. They’ll be responsible for carrying it out if after you pass away.
If you’ve been worried about ensuring that your kids are taken care of, simple wills let you set up a guardian for minor children.
Key Simple Will Information
In this section, we will cover some commonly asked questions about simple wills.
How To Create A Simple Will
Most people write them at home. They aren’t all that complicated. Just bring all essential documents with you when filing the will. Without them, you can’t put anything on file.
Can You Write A Will Yourself?
Writing one of them yourself isn’t hard. But, first, you have to put down some essential information, and you need to gather a few documents. Then, after that, it’s just down to filing it at probate. That’s right, even with a simple handwritten will, you won’t be able to skip probate.
How Much A Will Costs
Wills can vary in cost dramatically. If you don’t own enough to hit the estate tax, you may not have to pay anything at all. Owning a business could complicate things, though. No matter what, the majority of people should qualify for a simple will. So, most people can write a will without having to pay anything.
Are DIY Wills Legal?
Only wills that have gone through probate can be considered legal. In other words, you can write one up yourself. As long as it makes it through probate, it’s a legal will.
Does Everyone Need A Will?
Most people don’t want to think about writing a will. But that’s not a bright idea. A will protects our loved ones if something ever happens. For example, let’s say you have a wife and children. With a will, you can guarantee that your assets go to them. Or, perhaps you haven’t any children; everything in your will would go to your spouse.
What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
Wherever you live, the probate court will look over the case. They’ll refer to something called “intestate succession” laws. These laws define who is the legal inheritor in instances where someone passes away without a valid will.
What’s Included In A Simple Will
Simple wills cover quite a bit. Each of them will be a tad different, but they’ll all contain a few pieces of the same critical information. First, the testator must be defined, and they’ll have to declare they’re of sound mind.
Next, beneficiaries will be listed. These are whomever you’d like to receive your entire estate. Finally, an executor is named. Executors carry out the will after someone dies. A witness must sign the document, along with the testator.
All your financial assets should be on there as well. But, of course, that means you’ll have to scrounge up those old retirement account details as well as any investment accounts you have acquired. Additionally, it would be best if you listed all of your real property and real estate properties. If it belongs to you, then we’d recommend putting it in your will.
The Cost Of A Simple Will
The cost of writing a simple will can range from nothing at all to upwards of $1,000. However, writing a will without any help may cost you less than $100.
Ultimately, it’s up to your probate court. So no matter how you write the will, it’ll have to be sent to them.
Writing a simple will using an online platform is an affordable option, it could cost less than $100. You can get a simple kit online for even less than that. On the other hand, if you’d prefer using an attorney, prepare to pay around $300 or more.
How To Make Sure Your Will Is Valid
If your will passes probate, then it’s a valid legal document. So to do that, the will only has to have a few things written on it.
The testator, executor, and beneficiaries must all be identified. Next, the testator’s signature must be present, as well as the executor’s. Finally, a witness signature should be included on the will. As long as these are all there, it shouldn’t be hard to get it through probate.
Can A Parent Leave A Child Out Of A Will?
Parents can decide that they’d rather not give anything to one or all of their children. But, perhaps, the easiest way is by just specifying who should get everything.
Things You Should Include In A Simple Will
Simple wills should contain all of your assets. For example, how many vehicles do you own? Are there any homes in your name? Anything that belongs to you should be in your simple will.
Other than physical property, there are several other things people commonly include. Cash and other financial assets would probably be the most common thing.
Don’t forget to identify all of your bank and retirement accounts, including any life insurance policies.
Finally, if you have any heirlooms, make sure that you mention them.
The Four Must-Have Documents
The four must-have documents are essential for end-of-life planning. These estate planning documents protect you and your belongings in the case of your death.
A will is the first must-have document. Other than that, there’s also an advanced directive. The final two are your durable health power of attorney and financial power of attorney.
Advanced directives let people know what you’d like them to do if you are ever in a coma. Those last two specify who would be responsible for health and financial decisions. If you are incapacitated, these documents let everyone know who has legal authority.
Items That Don’t Belong In A Will
Few things can not be in your will. Some of them would include pension funds and unrealized stock gains. However, if you legally own something, you should be able to put it in the will.
Handwritten wills aren’t technically illegal, but they must make it through probate. Unfortunately, most probate courts don’t seem to like handwritten documents all that much.
Most handwritten wills seem to have a habit of getting flagged for some technicality. As a result, some areas won’t accept them at all.
For the best results, always submit a type-printed document to probate. These tend to make it through the probate process without any issues more often.
What To Do After You Make Your Simple Will
After you’ve written everything down, you’ll need to submit it to your local probate office. These offices determine what happens to peoples’ assets after they die.
Even without a will, people still have to go through probate to settle an inheritance. However, submitting your simple will to the probate office is relatively straightforward.
Your executor must file a petition with the probate court, and then they will need to present the case. There, they primarily verify that it’s been signed by a witness and conforms to state law. Then, as long as everything checks out, they’ll authorize it.
When You Need More Than A Simple Will
Simple wills often suffice for people who have uncomplicated finances. However, the moment you go beyond that, additional options start to make more sense. For example, business owners tend to benefit from alternative arrangements.
The estate tax is also a big deal. Simple wills aren’t the best for minimizing them. Once the estate tax comes into the picture, it’s worth exploring your options.
More Complex Wills
Typically, if a simple will isn’t sufficient, two other options work well. First, trusts are a great way to give away wealth without worrying about hitting the estate tax.
Other than that, you may have to speak with an estate planner. These people are professionals at minimizing those pesky estate taxes.
Does A Simple Will Avoid Probate?
Simple wills must make it through probate before they’re considered legally enforceable. Luckily, probate is a lot simpler whenever the testator is still among the living.
It tends to get a lot more complicated if someone passes away without having filed one.
Probate isn’t all that bad as long as you prepare for it properly. First, make sure that you’ve written down everything you’d like to be on your will. Then, have the executor of your will go to or call the local probate office to schedule an appointment.
Once their appointment arrives, they’ll present your case to the court. Here, the probate officers will verify that everything is according to local law. As long as everything checks out, they’ll let you file. Then, you’re good to go.
Making Online Simple Wills For Free
Some online platforms offer people a way to write their wills online, but most of them aren’t free. It’s possible to find places that seem to provide a free service. However, these won’t always deliver on their promises. Writing a simple will at home is the easiest way to do it for free.
Is Paying For An Online Will Maker Worth It?
Having a will is always worthwhile. Still, you wouldn’t want to overpay for anything. Most online will makers charge less than $100. If that’s not enough to break the budget, then using one of them might be worthwhile. They streamline the whole process. Plus, they’ll even check to see whether you’ve forgotten anything.
Writing a simple will online can be easier if you haven’t written one before. These programs make it simple to include everything you need.
If you’re looking for an online solution, Trust & Will is a modern, online solution, and a trusted brand for digital-first customers to create their estate plan. They help people create a customized plan, including all necessary documents in as little as 10 minutes.
Common Questions About Simple Wills
Hopefully, most of your questions have been answered. But, if not, you’ll find a few of the most common questions people have about simple wills below.
Is A Simple Will Good Enough?
Simple wills are more than enough for most people. Even though it is called a ‘simple’ will, that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. Complex wills are only beneficial if you’re in specific circumstances. Simple wills are useful enough that most people won’t ever need anything else.
How Do You Write A Simple Will For Free?
You can write up a will by typing it out on your computer. Some templates are available online, but they don’t always appear free. However, there’s nothing wrong with making it all up yourself. As long as it has everything that’s needed, probate won’t care.
How Do I Do A Simple Will At Home?
Most people seem to prefer writing them online since online tools double-check everything.
Can You Just Write A Will And Get it Notarized?
That’s pretty much how it works. You don’t need a notary, though. Instead, you’ll have to submit the document to your local probate court. Anything passed by a probate is a legally enforceable document.