No matter your age, it is a good idea for you to have a will. However, you might be unclear about a will is and the way that it works. The professionals at Elder Care Direction can provide you with some guidance about the importance of wills, and we can give you referrals to one of our partner attorneys if you need help with writing the will.
What is a will?
A will is also known as a last will and testament. It is a legal document in which you write down instructions about your final wishes. If you write a will in the correct way, the probate court will make certain that your wishes will be followed.
What does a will do?
Wills can be used to perform a number of functions, including the following:
- Direct how to pass assets
- Name an executor
- Name a guardian for children
- Determine how taxes and debts will be paid
- Make certain that pets will be taken care of
- To work as a backup for your living trust
There are a few things that you should not try to accomplish with a will. You shouldn’t attempt to place conditions on your gifts or to try to arrange for property or money that will be passed through a trust. If you have accounts with designated beneficiaries such as life insurance policies, IRAs, 401(k) plans, or others, the beneficiary designations will supersede anything that you might write in a will. You should also not try to use a will to leave property for a pet or to give instructions for handling your final arrangements.
The legal requirements for wills
Wills have legal requirements to be considered valid. To write a will, you need to know all of the assets that you own, and you must have the capacity to plan for how they will be handled.
You can then create the legal document in which the beneficiaries of your property will be named. You can then sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses who must also sign it. You might want to use a notarized self-proving affidavit to make certain that the legal document will be determined to be valid by the probate court.
It is best for you not to handwrite your will. While some states allow people to use handwritten wills that are not witnessed, you should only do this if you cannot write a formal will. Handwritten wills that are not signed by witnesses may be challenged.
How to write a will
You may write your own will or hire an attorney to write it for you. If you choose to write it by yourself, you should make certain to use a will template that follows the laws of your state. If your estate is complex, it is probably best for you to hire an attorney to help you.
Some reasons to get help from a lawyer with your will include the following:
- When you want to disinherit a child or your spouse
- When you are concerned that your will might be challenged
- When you want to provide for the care of your pets after you die
- When you are concerned about estate taxes
- When you want to maintain control over what happens for a long period of time after your death
The professionals at Elder Care Direction can work with you so that you can understand more about your need for a will. If you need to find a lawyer, we can refer you to one of our partner lawyers. To learn more, fill out our contact form today.