5 ways to get your will done in 15 minutes or less

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Jeanine SkowronskiFormer Head of Content at PolicygeniusJeanine Skowronski is the former head of content at Policygenius in New York City. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, American Banker Magazine, Newsweek, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, MSN, CNBC and more.

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Updated August 11, 2020. A will can be a great complement to a life insurance policy, but creating one can certainly feel daunting. Especially given the nature of the task (if you aren't sure if you need a will, read this primer.) But if you have a modest or straightforward estate, it's relatively easy to ensure your assets go to your loved ones after you die.

Here is how to get your will done in 15 minutes or less.

1. Pick your provider

You've got a few options when it comes to putting together a legal will. If you have a complex estate or multiple loved ones you want to leave wealth or property to, you probably want to hire an estate planning lawyer.

A strong estate plan starts with life insurance

If you have a simple estate, you can probably go the more affordable do-it-yourself route. You can create an online will using our app here.

2. Provide the pertinent information

Wills don't have to contain a ton of information, but expect to outline the following:

  • A declaration that you are of sound mind and body

  • Basic personal information, including state of residence, marital status and number of children in your family

  • Review of debts, including medical bills, attorney fees and funeral expenses

  • Specific bequests, exclusions or final requests

You'll also need to nominate people for certain responsibilities upon your death.

3. Name your beneficiaries

The beneficiary is the person or organization who will receive your assets after you die. You can have multiple beneficiaries and divide your estate however you want.

If you don’t name a beneficiary, or don't have a will at all, your spouse is automatically considered the heir to your estate, followed by your children.

If you have minor children, you will need to nominate a guardian in your will in case your spouse dies before you. You can also nominate guardians for any family pets.

Learn more about beneficiaries here.

4. Nominate an executor

The executor is the person who enforces your will after you die. He or she should be someone you trust, like your estate planner. You're also allowed to nominate one of your beneficiaries, but you don't have to.

You can even nominate multiple executors to administer your estate as a group.

Make sure your intended executor is on board ahead of time. The executor is allowed to decline the nomination, so make sure you pick some co-executors to fill in.

5. Get the will notarized

For your new will to be legally binding, you need to sign the paperwork along with two witnesses. In many states, your witness can't be an executor or beneficiary.

You should also take the extra step of getting a notary's seal of approval. If you don't, a court will have to decide whether the will is valid during probate, the legal process of proving a will.

Store your will in a safe deposit or fire box. Keep an extra copy on hand for reference — and update the document when applicable. The process of amending your will after it's initially drafted is known as "adding a codicil."

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