Having a valid District of Columbia last will and testament is one of the best ways you can protect your family and loved ones in the event of your passing. Making a valid District of Columbia last will ensures that your money, property, and possessions will go to the people of your choosing. Here’s our quick guide to prepare a valid District of Columbia last will in 7 simple steps.
Before you start writing your will, it’s a good idea to take some time to make a list of all the property you would like to include in your last will. Consider personal property such as your home(s), car(s), furniture, jewelry, and liquidities. Additionally, write down financial assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and retirement accounts. Don’t forget that certain types of property, such as life insurance proceeds and The District of Columbia living trusts, are non-probate assets in the District of Columbia. These types of properties, should not be included in the assets listed in your will because they are disposed of through a beneficiary designation on the accounts.
Make a list of the individuals and organizations you would like to be beneficiaries of your estate. Your recipients are the people who are going to inherit your belongings. This will lessen the chance that you accidentally omit someone important to you. Also, keep in mind in the District of Columbia you cannot completely disinherit your spouse and minor children.
Once you have assembled your list of property and beneficiaries, think about how you would like it distributed. In the District of Columbia, there are many different ways to distribute your assets to your heirs. For instance, you can make outright gifts of financial assets, real estate, specific assets, or business interests. Additionally, you can give individuals particular percentages of your estate, or you might decide to split all your assets equally among all your heirs.
You must pick an executor and name them in your last will, or otherwise, you run the risk that the probate court might appoint an executor for you. Your executor sometimes referred to as your personal representative, is the person who will be responsible for probating your estate in the District of Columbia probate court and making sure the terms of your will are carried out. This is a significant responsibility, and therefore you should select someone you trust. In addition to choosing your first choice for your executor, it is a good idea to also select a backup executor if your first choice is unwilling or unable to serve. It’s a good practice to choose an executor who lives near you. Selecting someone who lives in the District of Columbia as your executor makes probating your the District of Columbia estate a lot easier because your executor can easily access the District of Columbia probate court. If you decide to select someone outside the District of Columbia to be your executor, make sure your will financially cover your executor for any travel or other expenses while probating your estate in the District of Columbia probate court.
If you have minor children, you should pick the person that you would want to take care of your children in the event both you and your child’s other parent pass. The person you select as guardian for your children should be ready and willing to provide for their basic needs including food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and education. Additionally, while selecting your first choice for the guardian of your children, it is a good idea to pick a backup guardian in the event that your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve in this vital role. In the event that you forget to select a guardian, the District of Columbia court will appoint a guardian for your children.
As you can see, the most critical aspect of making a valid District of Columbia Will is to understand the information it must contain in order to be legally valid and binding. A District of Columbia lawfully valid will should clearly state that it is your last will and testament. It should also include your name and the date that you domiciled in the District of Columbia. Please note, you must be of legal age under District of Columbia law and you must have a testamentary capacity (“a sound mind”) to do so. The introduction of your will usually includes this critical information. In the body of your will, you should identify your executor, your backup executor, and any guardian or backup guardian for your minor children. In addition, you should explain how you would like your assets divided, and who should receive your property. For clarity, each request to an individual or charity should be in a separate paragraph.
In the District of Columbia, your last will must be signed by two adult witnesses to be considered legally valid. Your witnesses must understand that the document they are signing is a will, and they must sign the will in your presence. In the District of Columbia, witnesses must also be “disinterested” in your will, which means that they cannot be beneficiaries under the will. If an “interested” witness signs the will, there is a strong chance that your gift will be void. You must then sign your will for it to be valid, and usually, you must sign it in front of your witnesses. In signing your will, you are certifying that this is your will and you agree with its content. If you are physically unable to sign the will, you are generally permitted to ask a representative to sign for you in your presence. You should also have the signatures on your will notarized of a notary public.