If you are older than 18, it’s time to start thinking about what would happen in a worst-case scenario. You need to create a last will and testament. It’s a binding document that outlines how you want your assets distributed when you pass away.
Mic’s recent article, “Do I need a will? How to write a last will and testament, DIY templates and when to prepare one,” reminds us that we all have assets. Even if you don’t have a family, you’ll want to create a will to specify what you want done with your assets, after you’re gone.
When you die, your assets and debts go through probate. A judge rules how they will be divided. If your will is in order, and there’s no dispute, your assets will be distributed as designated in your will. Review these keys to writing a will:
What goes in your will? It should state how you want your assets, debts, and taxes addressed when you die. Name an executor, like a trusted family member or close friend. He will be tasked with executing the will, disbursing your assets, settling debts and paying taxes.
If you have children, the will should also designate their guardians. If you’re married, your spouse automatically will take custody of your children.
Do I write my will myself or get help? Many people use a DIY will for free. However, that can lead to problems, if the will is found to be invalid. In most instances, you’ll want to get an experienced estate planning attorney to assist you. This is especially important, if you’re in a same-sex relationship, own a small business or think your will might be contested. Attorneys can help you minimize the taxes on your estate, make sure your will is legal according to state law and help you set up a trust for your assets. Anyone with property or a family, should consult with an attorney who works in estates and trusts.
What if I don’t have a will? If you don’t have a will, the state intestacy laws will dictate how your assets will be distributed. The usual order in which people inherit your assets is your spouse, children, parents and any siblings. However, the laws in each state can be quite unique, so talk with an estate planning attorney.
Bear in mind that without a will, your beneficiaries may experience a delay in the disbursement of assets. This is because the probate court will be required to appoint an administrator to distribute the estate’s assets. Your best bet, at age 18 or 81: get a will!
Reference: Mic (July 14, 2017) “Do I need a will? How to write a last will and testament, DIY templates and when to prepare one.”