3 Final Steps for Making Your Will Official

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Your long-term care planning will include designing your will. Making decisions about the will is only the first step, according to the American Bar Association. There are still several things to do:

  1. Execute the will. This step means having witnesses present as you sign the will.

    All states require at least two witnesses as proof that the will is valid; that is, that the person signing the will knew what he or she was doing. Their signatures must be notarized. The witnesses should be people who are not named in the will to receive any gifts (even of modest value).

    The person named as the executor should not be a witness. Usually the witnesses are employees in an attorney's office, who do this every day.

  2. Decide where to keep the will. You should have only one signed original that you keep in a safe place.

    The attorney who drafts the will may or may not take the responsibility of storing it for you. Unsigned copies may be distributed to any family members who need to know about its contents. They should know where the original is stored.

    Putting the original will in a safe deposit box is not a good idea, because some banks restrict access to safe deposit boxes until there is a court order that it can be opened.

  3. Revisit the will at regular intervals. Creating a will is important for all adults.

    But people who create a will at one stage of their lives (for example, when they have young children) may forget about the will as the children grow up and have children of their own. Almost everything has changed in their lives. But the same will exists.

    Any major life-changing event — divorce, death of a family member named in the will, remarriage, birth or adoption of a new child, sale of a business, moving to a new state, onset of a life-threatening illness — is a reason to review a will and make appropriate changes.

    In the case of moving to a new state, you need to make sure that the new location will honor your will executed in another state, or you may need to draw up a new will. Your priorities may be the same or they may be different. In either event, the will should be up-to-date.

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