Your will: It’s Mandatory.
Making a will is critical for everyone. Not having a will is frankly not an option, you know this. It really only takes a few hours, and the three main options I found to get it done are: 1) hiring a lawyer, 2) purchasing an online or software program to guide you, or 3) doing it yourself.
If you have the ability to hire a lawyer and make it easy on yourself then awesome, I did because I needed help. Other reasons a lawyer could be especially helpful is if you have any complicating factors like blended families, same-sex couples, custody disputes, numerous properties or investments, etc.
If you can’t (or won’t) hire an attorney, check out the NYT review of will software or download the Will template to familiarize yourself with the language (note: it is the template I used which is specific to WA State).
Nolo and LegalZoom are two of the more popular online options. But, if you do this on your own, really do your research and sign your will in the presence of two witnesses. It isn’t required in WA State, but also have it validated by a notary public to make it “self-proving”, which speeds up the process and is good idea.
Do it now:
Ask friends who used a lawyer for a referral, research online software options and start thinking about the decisions you need to make. WA State Will Template (.docx) outlines basic will language and content.
The Power of Attorney Template (.docx) names your Power of Attorney for Assets and Guardianship of children.
Who is in my will?
In addition to confirming your Will, which outlines who gets what, fill out the companion Powers of Attorney template. This document is designed to name your Durable Power of Attorney for Assets which allows someone to make financial decisions for you should you become incompetent or disabled, and also names who you want to take care of your child(ren) to avoid court supervised guardianship proceedings in the event of legal incapacity.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
Your friends and family will have to spend days or weeks digging through your things to figure it out for you. But it is often not that easy and we’ve all heard the tragic stories: Family relationships destroyed, custody battles, long and confusing probate process, money that should go to survivors eaten away by court battles. Your relatives could easily make decisions you would disagree with, or even much simpler, you always wanted xx to have your yy, but no one knew.
Where do I find a notary public?
Your bank or credit union is a good place to start. It should be able to notarize your will free of charge. Insurance and real estate agencies, some public libraries, most government offices tend to have a notary public available. You can also find notary public practices in your local business listings.
Where do I put my Will?
You should have a copy in a safe location with your other important documents. Also, make sure to give a copy to the person you named as your Power of Attorney, and at least one or two others named in your will to ensure your A-team of people are informed and are able to execute it if needed.