I know what happens when someone dies without a will, and I know that it is a very cruel thing to do to those you are leaving behind.
They are going to be possibly traumatized, very much grieving and very overwhelmed. There are so many things to do. It’s so stressful. Trust me, I’ve had to do it, and I was so glad that there was a t least a holographic will.
We had never gone to a lawyer to get an actual will done. But we each had taken a few minutes and a piece of paper and wrote out a holograph will. They are not legal everywhere, and there are some extra rules in some places. I encourage you to check out the rules for where you are but I will cover the basics required where I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. You can look online and search for the term “holograph will” or check another way.
Here, it is a legally binding will as long as you follow a few simple rules.
But first, before I get into those rules, I want to stress again how important this is. If you think dying without a will doesn’t cause problems and everything goes to my spouse or children. You are mistaken.
It gets dispersed according to the government rules. These rules can be quite complicated and to make matters worse …
– wait it can be worse than the government being in charge of everything I own?
Yes, it can. You have now made it a requirement for one of your grieving loved ones to have to go to legal steps just to get permission from the court to administer your estate according to what the government says they must do.
How’s that for a nice goodbye? “Sorry, I know you miss me, but can you go to court, so you can take care of this for me?”
I know wills are not a topic anyone wants to deal with, but if you can sit down for 5 minutes and take care of this issue, don’t you think you should? I do highly recommend you go to get an official will done by a lawyer that will replace the holograph will, but the holograph will change you from dying “intestate” (without a will) to dying with a very simple will that makes it easier for your loved ones. It also keeps the government from having complete control over what happens with your estate.
All you need is a pen and a piece of paper and look it up online you get the actual instructions for where you live, but I’m going to give you the basic rules.
Number one date it. You put today’s date on it. Right now, for me, that is October 23, 2021. That goes at the top. Then you’re going to write, “This is the last will and testament of…” and you’re going to write your whole name.
In the next sentence to you have to name an executor.
For your will, the executor is the person who is going to be in charge. You need someone you can trust and who is also intelligent.
They don’t have to be able to do everything themselves, they just have to know that they can hire people. The estate pays for that before other things are paid for (as long as there is money in the estate).
They do have to have mental capacity, and I believe have to live in your country.
So your second sentence is: “I name ______ (put the full name of the person you chose), as the executor.” For example I name my mother Jane Elizabeth Doe as the executor of my estate.
If you want, you can add, “if they are not available, or don’t want to (be executor), this person (your second option) can be the executor.” This isn’t necessary though.
The third line tells who you are leaving everything to.
Do not get creative. You’re not a lawyer and neither am I. There are a lot of things that lawyers know to do with wills, that are important, The more complicated you want to get, the more necessary it is you go to a lawyer. Remember, this is just to replace you not having any will. It is like your last chance to speak as you gasp your final breaths, Keep it short.
All you’re going to say is “Everything goes to…” It could be your spouse, or another person. You can say “Everything will be divided equally between…” any two people, or you can say “Everything will be divided equally amongst”… and name multiple people, perhaps your children.
I recommend you give their full names and their relationship to you.
You don’t have to say, equally, you can say this person gets 70%, this one gets 30%, but then you starting to get into the weeds. Keep it simple.
We don’t want this coming back and being a problem. We want this to be, you have a will.
I know somebody that was dying of cancer, saw a lawyer for a will. They were going to go sign it on Monday. but they died on Sunday. So they died without a valid will. That is tragic, and this can solve that problem.
Do this right now, then you can go see a lawyer later.
So those three lines are really all you need, BUT the whole will has to be completely 100% hand written by you.
If it’s your will, written by you. If it’s Joe’s will, Joe has to write it.
You cannot write it for somebody else. It cannot be typed and signed. It has to be 100% in your handwriting and if you’re thinking open I don’t know how to do script (handwriting).
That’s fine, you can print it, as long as YOU do it. If you have those four things; “the date”, “this is the last will and testament of”, “I name this person is the executor”, “everything goes to”, now, sign it.
I say sign it, even though in some places, you require a witness, and they have to see you sign it. Sign it anyway.
You can rewrite it easily and sign it with a witness or you can just resign it in front of somebody. It only costs of a piece of paper and maybe 5 minutes of your time.
There are two more lines that you can add if you have children that are under age.
The first would be: I name “this person” as the Guardian” or “these people”, as the guardians.
And second, “I want “this person” to handle the estate and trust for the children”. You can have one person that’s really good with children and one person that’s really good with money.
You can divide it up, or you can have one person doing both, that’s fine.
Many couples are not comfortable with this part. I will repeat myself again, this is just to have a say instead of letting the government be in charge. Make a quick choice and think about it afterward.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. This isn’t when you go to the lawyer and you have to have it all perfect, because it’s going to cost you a few hundred dollars to go back and do it again. If you write it, and you have it done, and you don’t like it, you can rewrite it. Ten minutes later you can just destroy the one you did 10 minutes earlier.
There’s one more step you need to do, and that is, you have to tell the executor that there is a will and where you put it. If you have any life insurance policies, I would keep it with those.
This so easy, and it’s so important, and you will make such a difference for those that you’re leaving behind.
I’ve been there. It’s not a fun place to be. I was SO happy to have that holograph will in hand.
Take action on this immediately.
Tell other people about this.
I do recommend you still go see a lawyer and have a lawyer make a will for you. That is because there are a lot of rules that you don’t know about, and I don’t know about, but lawyers know.
They will do a very good job and you can get much more detailed with your wishes. But this will ensure you have a will now, and don’t die intestate. The government won’t take control, and your loved ones don’t have to go to court to get permission to deal with your stuff.