will writing

A recent study showed that over ⅔ of American adults don’t have a will. However, a will is necessary to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. Whether you don’t think you have enough assets to create a will, you’re too young to start planning your estate, or it’s just one bullet point on your long to-do list, many people put off writing their wills, potentially leaving their assets up to the court to distribute. Writing a will doesn’t have to be complicated, though, and we’ve broken it down into five easy steps for writing your will in Arkansas.

5 Basic Steps to Write a Will

List Your Assets

The first step to create your will is making a list of everything you own. Your assets make up a big part of your estate, so deciding what happens to them is a crucial part of your estate plan. 

Estate assets include:

  • Property/real estate
  • Checking, savings, and money market accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Vehicles
  • Personal items (furniture, jewelry, valuables, etc.)
  • Business accounts

Keep in mind that there’s a difference between probate assets and non-probate assets, which will need to be addressed in other areas of your estate plan. Your will should address all of the types of assets listed above. Take your time deciding how you will divide your assets. 

Name Beneficiaries

After you have a list of your assets, the next step is to decide who gets what. Make a list of every one of your beneficiaries before deciding how your assets should be distributed among them. An estate planning lawyer can advise you on the best ways to divide assets if you’re undecided. 

Choose an Executor

The executor of will should be someone who you trust. Your executor is responsible for distributing your assets according to your will, handling any taxes or outstanding debts, and more. 

Gather Documents

Your will should include documentation of your assets, such as property deeds, bank account information, and insurance policy details, among other documents. The more documents you have, the easier it will be to put your will together. 

Sign and Store

Once the will is completed, you must sign it to make the will official. Arkansas law requires that you sign your will in front of two witnesses. You put a lot of time, effort, and thought into creating your will, so after it’s complete, you’ll need to store it somewhere safe. There are several options for storing your will, including a safe deposit box, fire-proof safe, with your executor, and more. Talk to your attorney for tips on the best way to store your will. 

Tips for Writing a Will

  • Don’t Rush – Once you start thinking about your estate, creating a will might feel suddenly urgent. When you feel rushed, you might make a mistake and miss certain details. Instead, take a deep breath, take your time, and be thorough. 
  • Don’t Stop at a Will – Although it’s an essential component of an estate plan, your will is only the first step in building an estate plan. There’s more to planning your estate, such as a health care directive, trust, and more. 
  • Keep It Simple – Many people imagine that their estate represents their entire life. Since life is complicated, they believe that their will needs to be, too. When it comes to wills, simple and clear language is better to avoid disputes and to make your wishes clear.

Creating your will can be a daunting task, but it’s not one that you need to face on your own. While you can legally create your own will, you might want to consider hiring an estate planning attorney to help you navigate the complexities of a will with confidence. Your attorney knows the ins and outs of Arkansas estate planning laws to create a valid will that preserves your legacy. At L. Jennings Law, we take an individualized approach to our process to create a unique estate plan for each client. If you have questions about creating or updating your estate plan, contact L. Jennings Law to schedule a consultation.

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