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Estate planning: Basics of writing a will

A will ensures that your family and friends carry out your wishes for your estate. Creating this document may provide peace of mind, as you do not need to worry about anyone you care for not receiving what you left for him or her.

Making a will is an essential step in life. It may be particularly difficult when you have many loved ones that you want to leave something for. Knowing how to handle this process in estate planning correctly is vital to make sure that you leave behind a valid will.

Appointing an executor for a will

You generally appoint someone as the executor of your will. The executor’s job is very important — to carry out the wishes in your will. You may want to inform this person before your death that you would like him or her to take this role.

The executor is responsible for handling your assets and debts, paying taxes and ensuring the completion of estate documentation for court. If you have children, you may appoint a guardian in your will whom you would like to take care of them after you pass. You may also choose alternate guardians, in case the first choice cannot fulfill the duty.

Signing a will

Specific requirements ensure that a will is valid. You need to sign a will after completion, and two witnesses need to be present at the signing for it to be valid. These witnesses need to be over 18 years old and not named heirs within the will.

Indiana is one of the states that allows handwritten wills to be valid. Oral wills may be valid if made during imminent death. However, this requires the presence of two witnesses, and one of the witnesses must provide a written will within six months from the date of the oral will.

Never creating a will

If you do not create a will, your estate becomes intestate and the probate court divides it among your surviving relatives. However, if there are unpaid debts, the court uses the estate to pay them before the division of assets. Overall, creating a will is an effective way to ensure you can share your estate the way you would prefer.