Writing a will is really an arduous job. It’s a decision that determines the fate of your estate and property. This is also considered the cornerstone of estate planning. It means if you want to take initiative for estate plan, you have to start it with a will.
Now, as important as it sounds, very few people take it seriously before their older age. People’s general conception about a will is that it’s the thing they need to do at the final hour of their lives. But a will is not just transferring your wealth to the future generation; it’s part of property management too.
You have to take many things into consideration before writing a will. By only asking the right questions, you can make the will right. Here’s what you take into consideration-
What is a Will?
Let’s begin with a simple question. What’s will mean? It’s a straightforward legal document that determines the fate of one’s property after his demise. In a will, you can specify who will be in charge of your property, how it will be distributed, and who will be your beneficiary.
You can also assign a guardian for any minor children or dependent in your will. You have to keep in mind that some property types like insurance policies and retirement accounts can’t be covered by a will.
What Happens if You Die Without a Will?
It may not be a pleasant question, but obviously an important one. When someone dies without a will, he will become what we call intestate. It means the fate of his estate or property will be determined by the law of his state. The property has to go through a lengthy process of transferring, which is called “Probate.”
Now, no one in their right mind wants that. Probate is not only a lengthy process but also a costly one. The worst part of probate is that your property may get into someone’s hand you would prefer not to in your lifetime. The property won’t even get distributed the way you wish to.
Do You Need an Attorney?
In theory, you can prepare your will by yourself. It’s not a problem whether you draft your will or a lawyer draft it for you as long as it meets the requirement of the state. But preparing a will is already a challenging task. So, making it without professional help might not be a good idea.
An attorney can advise you to get the best plan available. He can help you sort out the property accordingly and give important advice on estate planning strategies like living trust.
Should You and Your partner have a Joint Will or Separate Will?
Many estate planners advise against making a joint will. The downside of a joint will is that many states may not recognize it as a legal document. There could be many properties that you and your partner own separately. Things could get complicated if you and your partner want to get divorced. Though it may look repetitive, you and your partner should have a separate will.
Who Should Act as a Witness?
Every will needs a witness. Literally, anyone can act as a witness to a will. But selecting someone who is beneficiary as a witness is not a good idea. It could cause a conflict of interest. So, choose someone trustworthy and someone who is not beneficiery. The number of witnesses required for a will may vary state to state. You also should exclude your lawyer from being a witness who is going to draft your will.
Who Should You Name as Executor?
An executor is a person who is going to carry out the instruction of your will. You can easily understand that the person you choose must be a trustworthy and close one. He/she could be your friend or someone close like your spouse.
The job of executor is crucial for your estate. He/she is empowered to pay or collect your debt, pay your debt and taxes.
How do You Leave Specific Items to Specific Beneficiary?
You should make as many details as possible in your will to indicate who will get what portion of your wealth. Things could get a bit tricky when you want to leave some specific things to someone. In that case, you can create a separate document we call a “letter of instruction.”
A letter of instruction is not being treated as legal documents in some states. You may assign a trusted person to distribute specific items to specific people. But it could be risky and, in many cases, raises further misconception.
Where Should You Keep Your Will?
It’s a somewhat important question. Should you keep your will to a safe place to your home or trust someone with your will. I would say neither of these two options is excellent. Though there is paperwork involved, I would say you better keep your will under a bank’s safekeeping. The benefit of keeping document a in a bank is that there is absolutely zero risks of missing it.
How Often Does a Will Needs to be Reevaluated?
Now, I would say it’s a rather personal question. It’s you who knows better than anyone what’s happening to your estate, property, and business. You may prefer a manager to get informed about the update of your property, and with his consultation, you may decide whether it’s time to update your will or not.
Can Someone Contest Your Will?
It’s a tough question. If you make a will according to the state’s law, then it’s an excellent document. However, your spouse and children can challenge the will if it goes against the local probate law.
If there is no eyewitness, then there would raise questions like whether the will is written under someone’s coercion or not. The testator‘s sanity can be an issue. The one who writes will understand the situation and must be under no one’s influence.
These are more or less the primary questions before writing a will. If you want to know more about trust and will, you can contact us anytime. Preparing will need considerable time and patience. So when you write a will, you should consider taking some time off and consult an attorney.