None of us wants to face the inevitable possibility of our end of life. However accidents happen, and life carries no guarantee that you will still be alive in a week, a month, a year, or 50 years. It doesn’t matter your age, making a will is a responsibility every adult needs to undertake as soon as they reach adulthood.
That doesn’t mean that once it is complete it is a done deal. Everyone experiences changes in their life that impact what may need to be included in a will. Those changes include marriage, having children, acquiring assets, and more.
When you are preparing to write a will, you need to give consideration to a variety of areas. This includes who receives your personal possessions.
This can be a substantial asset such as your house or car. It may also be items of a more personal manner such as the family members who you want to receive your baseball card collection, antique furniture, or jewelry.
Family members often end up in disputes when they all want the same thing and there is no written direction on who gets what.
Guardianship of Minor Children
When you are a parent, your will needs to include information on who you want to be physical guardians and financial guardians of your children in the event you die prior to them reaching adulthood.
If you do not have this detailed in a will, you may have preferred your children go to your sister, and your brother manages the finances, but the court may decide otherwise. The court makes a determination based on the evidence before them, and your loved one may not present as favorably to the court as someone else for control of your children or assets.
Executor of Will
When you are creating a will you need to select an executor. This is the person responsible for handling your personal estate. The executor carries a tremendous amount of responsibility.
They will notify creditors of your death and handle payment of outstanding bills. They will appear for court proceedings and file probate paperwork.
The executor will manage all financial aspects of the estate, including inventory, disbursement or sale of property, closing the estate, and filing tax returns.
Properly Sign and Store the Will
You cannot just write something out, sign it, and assume it will be acceptable to the court. Each state has specific requirements regarding the signing of a will, the number of witnesses, and whether those signatures need to be notarized.
Once you have a signed will store it in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box or personal safe. It is also advisable to notify the person who will serve as executor of their position and where the will is kept.
Be sure to review and update your will as necessary. Things such as a divorce, death of a loved one, marriage, birth of a child, or acquisition of assets may result in changes needing to be made to the will.
Do I Need an Estate Lawyer When Making a Will?
While it is possible to prepare your own will, it is not advisable. The will must meet specific legal requirements for your state. You do not want the court to determine the disbursement of your assets because your will does not comply with the law.
If you do not have a will, or your will is out-of-date, you need to speak with an estate lawyer. They will advise you on the best estate plan for your needs. This may include a will, trust, and medical directives.
Writing a Will Is Important
Making a will is important to ensure your assets go to the people you designate. This is especially important if you have minor children. It is better for you to select a designated guardian rather than the court.
If you enjoyed learning about the importance of making a will, we invite you to check out our blog for more great information on a wide variety of topics.