7 Tips For Writing Your Will

Houses and cars are among the most commonly bequeathed items.

It’s not something we like to think about, but death is an inevitable fact of life. While we can’t predict ‘our time,’ it is important to be prepared. One way to do this is to write a will. This important document ensures that the testator (the person making the will) can control the division of his/her assets, which gives you peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will benefit in the way you desire. This Tip Thursday, we share some information on how to write a will.

  1. Put it in writing. A will must be in writing, whether hand-written or typed. Ensure that you use clear language to express your wishes and avoid using technical jargon.
  2. Appoint an executor. This person will be responsible for administering your estate. You must appoint at least one executor, but no more than four. It is recommended that at least two executors be appointed in case one dies before the testator or refuses to act on the death of the testator.
  3. Ensure that you have witnesses. The will must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must be there at the same time. They will in turn sign in the presence of the testator. Failure to follow this procedure makes the will invalid. Also, note that you cannot bequeath gifts to the witnesses and/or their spouses as the will may become void.
  4. Add a residuary clause. This can be used as the last paragraph to ensure that property acquired after the will is originally drawn up is properly bequeathed.
  5. Draft a new will after marriage. It is important that you prepare and execute a new will after getting married as the first is no longer be valid. You are free to change your will at any time, but you must ensure that after the new document is properly executed, the old one is destroyed.
  6. Seek legal advice. You do not need a lawyer to draft a basic will, especially if you are not leaving behind a large estate. However, a will is a very important legal document and it is always best to seek qualified advice in matters concerning the law.
  7. Don’t hide your will. It is important to keep your will in a safe place, but ensure that it can be found in the event of your death. Be sure to advise your executor(s) of its whereabouts. If you drafted the will with an attorney, it would be advised to have him/her store the document.

For more information, check diGJamaica.com for a list of lawyers specialising in wills and estate and trust services.