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Wills Cheat Sheet: Five Tips To Get You Started

It might seem complex, but it’s quite simple: Where do you want all your stuff to go?

Having trouble telling your executors from your beneficiaries? These five tips will help.

1. Napkins Aren’t Official

You can’t just write “I leave all my stuff to my cat” on a piece of paper and expect it to hold up in court. (Unless it's cat court.) Once you complete the document, you only need two people to sign it as witnesses. Plus, only one state requires notarization, which you can get done at a bank, post office, or government office. (Thanks a lot, Louisiana). [Helpful Checklist: Writing A Will]

2. Online For Basic, Face-To-Face For Complex

If your estate isn’t complicated—example: if you want to split all your belongings and money evenly between beneficiaries—try an online service. If you’ve got a complicated web of finances, business interests and Trusts, or if you'd rather work with a human instead of a computer, get an attorney. [Helpful Resource: Online Legal Services]

3. If You Have Kids Name A Guardian ASAP

If something happens to you and you don’t pick a person to care for your kids, the courts will be doing it for you. Not cool if your closest relative is a snake handler, alligator wrestler, or a Kardashian. [Dig Deeper: What Are The Duties Of A Guardian Of The Person]

4. Time To Execute

Apart from naming the people, institutions, and/or pets who get your stuff (beneficiaries), you have to pick an Executor to make sure the Will gets done. The more uptight about details the better (just don’t tell the person you choose we said that).

5. Keep It Safe And Let Your Family Know It Exists

Make sure it’s in a secure place but still accessible. This means a locked drawer, home safe, or on file with an attorney (if you hire one). It’s also vital to share the location of the Will with a person who will one day need it. Might we suggest putting it in your Everplan? (Hint, hint!)

Deep Dive: All You Need To Know About Creating A Will

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