Once you have decided that you need to create a will or a trust agreement, and have a basic outline of what you want them to contain, your next major step is to draft your will and trust agreement.
In order to draft a will or trust, you do not need to be a lawyer, accountant, or other estate planning professional. It is, after all, your will or trust. However, it is always a good idea to draft a will or trust with the assistance of an attorney, or other expert.
There are several requirements involved in drafting a will and trust. First of all, you must be a legal adult. In the United States, this typically means you must be at least 18 years of age.
In addition to being an adult (and therefore legally presumed to be capable of making your own decisions), you must be mentally competent. In order to be valid, wills and trusts must be the product of your free will. If you are deemed mentally incompetent to make such important decisions, any will or trust created in your name will be invalid.
What Makes a Will or Trust Agreement Valid?
A valid will or trust must also include language that makes the intent of the testator (the person creating the document) clear. So, if you are drafting a will, the opening paragraph should clearly state that the document is intended to serve as your last will and testament. Your will should then provide your contact information, the names of all beneficiaries, and their contact information, an accounting of your assets and liabilities, and who you want to receive your assets.
Likewise, if you are drafting a document with the intent of creating a trust, you should make it clear in the beginning paragraphs of the documents that you intend to create a trust. In addition to unambiguously laying out one's intent to create a trust, it should state who is to serve as the trustee, the beneficiary of the trust, and the property that is being held in trust. It should also lay out the purpose that the trust is meant to serve (paying for college for the beneficiary, etc.).
There is much more to drafting a will or trust agreement than has been discussed here. Accordingly, if you need help drafting a will or trust, you should speak with a lawyer who specializes in wills, trusts, and estate planning.