Do you want the state to decide who the guardians of your minor children will be if you and your child’s other parent pass away? Do you want the state to decide which of your relatives inherit your assets?
If you answered no to the questions above then the answer to the question “Do I need a Will” is yes!
A properly drafted and executed will puts the power of deciding how your assets will be distributed and who will be the guardian(s) for your minor children if/when you pass on. It’s relatively easy to make and execute a will, but according to RocketLawyer.com almost ⅔ of Americans do not have one!
Ok, so now you know that if you have assets or minor children (or both) you probably want to learn more about Wills.
What is a Will?
A will is basically a set of instructions describing your wishes after death. In most cases a will is a legal document that should be executed by the county court to make sure those wishes come true.
At the very least a will should:
- Name beneficiaries to inherit your property
- Name a guardian to care for your young children
- Cancel debts you owe
- Tell people how expenses and taxes are to be paid
- Name an executor (the quarterback) to carry out the will
- Be Notarized
Do I need a lawyer to make a will?
That depends on who you talk to. If your situation doesn’t have a complicated web of legal intricacies (that’s the case for most people) and you know how you want to divvy up your property then a do it yourself service like Nolo.com can usually help you meet your objectives.
If you decide to use a do it yourself program like Nolo make sure you read ALL of the instructions and don’t forget to have the document notarized and witnessed by two people (Make sure it’s two people your heirs can find when you pass… if your Will is contested the court will use the witnesses to validate the Will).
Updating a Will
We all know people who have died, divorced, and moved. We also know people who were once responsible but had a change in their life that no longer makes them the ‘go to’ person we chose as the executor of our will or estate. In a nutshell life changes all the damn time so updating your Will each year is a GREAT idea..it literally takes a few hours.
A will doesn’t protect you from probate. Instead a will guarantees that your assets use probate to make sure your wishes are granted. I’ve been through the probate process for clients on multiple occasions and each time it has been a very smooth process. Keep in mind, probate information is public information so your estate information will be available in public records.
What if I don’t have a Will?
If you don’t have a will then the state will decide who receives your assets.
I’m a Young Parent with No Money…So I Don’t Need a Will
WRONG. If you are a young parent then you need to make a will ASAP. A will makes sure you get to choose the friend or family member that raises your children and manages their finances in the unfortunate event that you pass away while they are still minors.
Don’t confuse a Living Will with a traditional Will and a Living Trust
A living will relates to your health. It’s a legal document used to tell people if you want or don’t want prolonged medical treatments if you were to face a life threatening situation and are unable to speak for yourself. The living will allows you to make decisions while you are in sound mind; eliminating the burden from family members or friends.
A will does not have to be complicated, doesn’t take that long to draft, and is probably something you should consider. If you already have a will don’t forget to review it with your executor, financial, legal, and tax teams!
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This presentation is for informational purposes only and is not INVESTMENT ADVICE, TAX ADVICE, or LEGAL ADVICE. THE INFORMATION IN THIS ARTICLE MAY OR MAY NOT APPLY TO YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION. CONSULT WITH A FINANCIAL, LEGAL, OR TAX TEAM ABOUT YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.