While the Covid pandemic has thrown the importance of estate planning into sharp relief, around 68% of US adults still lack even a basic will. Some of this no doubt stems from thinking that you don’t own enough property or possess enough liquid assets to need a will. Yet, the absence of a will can create problems for your loved one.
In other cases, people may worry they need legal assistance they cannot afford. The upshot is that you can write your will without leaping countless hurdles. Before you get into the nitty-gritty of “writing my will,” there are some things you need to know ahead of time.
1. Attorneys Are Your Friend
When it comes to getting a will or estate planning, attorneys are your friend. Many of them specialize in estate planning, as you’ll see when you view this source. They can help you spare your beneficiaries from unnecessary fees and structure trusts that limit taxes.
Just as importantly, they can draft your will in a way that will hold up in a court of law barring some extreme circumstances.
2. Software can also Be Your Friend
Not every person owns complex financial instruments like a large stock portfolio or extensive real estate holdings. If you own a single piece of real estate, an IRA, and the money in your bank accounts, you can probably get away with using high-end software for writing wills. Your holdings don’t require a high-powered attorney to help you navigate the tax code.
3. You Should Decide Who Will Inherit What
Vague wills end up contested in court. Don’t expect your grieving family members to make rational choices about who will get what. Decide ahead of time who will get what, then put that information down in the will.
It saves time and can help stave off unnecessary legal wrangling.
4. Pick an Executor
You must name an executor for your estate in your will. If possible, look for a responsible family friend with sound finances. The finances help them get bonded if the court requires it.
If there isn’t anyone else, you can name your attorney as your executor.
5. Designate Guardians
If you have children under the age of 18 at the time you write the will, you should designate at least one guardian for them. Ideally, you’ll name more than one potential guardian. Without specific information about who will take responsibility, kids can end up shuffled around in the system while social services try to track down a willing guardian.
Write Your Will, Sooner than Later
There is a kernel of truth behind the old chestnut that you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Given the option, you should write your will sooner than later. It gives you the chance to think everything through and get it down on paper.
It ensures that you can put those estate planning tips into your will. It also lets you protect your loved ones from a grueling court process.
Looking for more estate planning advice? Take a look at our Law section.