What You Need to Know About Writing a Will

A will is one of the most important documents in a person’s life. While it may be hard to sit down and write out the details of what will become of your property after you are gone, it must still be done.

The first thing you need to know when creating a will is why it is important to have a will. The laws regarding wills vary from state to state. In South Carolina, if the deceased person leaves no will, the property of the deceased will be distributed according to South Carolina law instead of your own estate plan. That may mean that your estate will be entirely distributed to your spouse, divided up between multiple family members, or if no known relatives can be located, your estate will become the possession the state of South Carolina. If you wish to have control over the distribution of your estate-no matter how large or small it is-you must create a will.

When you are creating a will it is mandatory that you are 18 years of age or older, of sound mind and memory, and not under any restraint to create a will. Your will must be in writing-handwritten or typed are both acceptable. It must clearly state that it is your will. It must be dated and signed by yourself and two other witnesses-both of which are not designated as recipients of property in the will.

Once the will has been created, the original document cannot be written on or altered in any way. In order to make changes to your will you must create a “codicil.” The creation of a codicil adheres to the same guidelines as the creation of the will: written, dated, and signed by yourself and two witnesses. If major changes are to be made, the original will may be destroyed and a new one created.

You can make additions to your will by signing a “codicil,” with all the formalities of a will. The codicil must be in writing, dated and signed by you and two witnesses. You cannot change a properly executed will by writing revisions into the will, even if you initial and date the changes. You can also amend or restate your trust. However, if major changes are needed, consider making a new will or trust.

While it is not mandatory to consult the expertise of a lawyer when creating your will, it is often done to insure that all assets are protected and distributed as intended and without state interference. If a self-drafted will fails to meet the requirement set forth by the state, the will may be called into question and state statues may take over the distribution of your estate.

The lawyers at Bellamy Law Firm are happy to assist you with any questions regarding will creation. We specialize in practices for wills, trusts, and estate laws for South Carolina.