You’ve heard the phrase “don’t leave it to chance,” right? Well, that’s especially true when it comes to planning your estate. You have definitely also heard of family feuds and other problems due to poor estate planning. Having a will that is up-to-date is one of the most important things anyone can do. And we’re here to help! So here are your most frequently asked questions about wills:
Can I write my own will?
Yes, you can write your own will. A will is a legally binding document. It dictates how people should distribute property, money and other assets after your death. A will can also specify who should care for minor children.
It’s always a good idea to ask an experienced lawyer if you’re unsure. Nowadays, there are many online tools you can use. Make sure yours offers the best coverage possible. A good example of that is our very own Last Will.
Do I need an attorney to write a will?
If your will is simple, you may be able to write it yourself. But maybe your estate is very large or complex. It’s then a good idea to have a lawyer draw it up for you.
What if I don’t have a will?
The best-case scenario is that you have a will. Then you’ve shared your wishes and instructions about the distribution of your property. If you don’t have a will and die without one, however, things change quite a lot. The law of intestacy dictates how probate will divide your assets upon your death.
There are certain states with more complex intestacy laws than others. For example, you may live in California or New York City (and other jurisdictions). There are then several different ways for an estate to pass along if no spouse or children survive an individual.
What should I not include in a will?
There are some things that you shouldn’t include in a will:
Your life insurance. You don’t want to leave your beneficiaries with the obligation of paying off your life insurance. At least not just because you named them as beneficiaries. Instead, name an irrevocable trust as the beneficiary of your policies. This way you’ll be able to name what happens to any money left over after your death.
Your retirement plans. Perhaps there is an existing plan from work or school that names a beneficiary for when you pass away. In that case don’t change those beneficiaries in your will. Otherwise it could cause problems for those who you have already named on these accounts.
Property owned jointly with someone else (like a spouse). You may have joint bank accounts. However, what if both parties aren’t on record saying who should get what if one passes away first? Then whoever is around when the other dies holds all power over who gets which assets. And this usually isn’t fair at all! A probate court may not take your jointly owned property into consideration.
What is the difference between a will and a living will?
The main difference between a will and a living will is that a will outlines how assets distribution after death. A living will, though deals with the medical treatment you would want if you were unable to make decisions for yourself. Both are legal documents that are important for anyone to have in place.
In some states, living wills are as “healthcare directives” or “advance directives”.
Should I have an identical will with my my spouse?
You may want to consider having an identical will with your spouse. That’s a joint or mirror will. However, there are other options as well.
Do you have a spouse and children who are minor? You should have a will to designate guardians for them.
Do you have a living trust that is more complex than the typical revocable living trust? For example, if it includes provisions for multiple beneficiaries. Then you may want to make sure that both spouses sign the same document. This way their intentions and wishes regarding property distribution in the event of death are clear.
How often should I update my will?
The answer to this question is straightforward: you should update your will when the circumstances of your life change. If you get married or divorced, have children or get remarried. Or if you start working in a different field or acquire new assets. In these cases it’s time to review your will.
The most common reason for needing to update a will is if you have a new spouse or have gotten a divorce. Another example is if you change your name. You may also need to update your will if:
You have children out of wedlock with someone other than your spouse. Same applies if the guardian of a minor children is not the guardian anymore.
You want certain property left behind for specific reasons. For example, a special memento from a loved one who has passed away.
If you become bankrupt.
If there are any changes in the mortgages on your property etc.
What is the difference between a testator and an executor?
The testator is the person who makes the will. The executor is the person who carries out the will. Sometimes, people use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. An executor is in some states a personal representative or an administrator. Those do mean the same thing.
Can anyone contest my will?
Yes, anyone can contest a will. The most common reasons are that they feel you didn’t properly – or at all – included them in the will. Or maybe they believe that you didn’t have sufficient mental capacity to make sound decisions when writing their last will.
However, it’s important to note that not every will contestation will be successful. There are many factors which affect this. This includes whether or not there was fraud involved. Or if the person contesting it can make a good case.
Where should I keep my will?
You can keep a copy of your will in a safe place. Good examples of that are a lock box or safe deposit box. Make sure someone knows the password to those! You can also entrust it to a family member or friend for safekeeping.
It’s okay to keep the original copy with an attorney or other fiduciary who is knowledgeable about estate planning. Are there any minor variations between state laws? Then keeping multiple copies will help avoid confusion later down the road and simplify things for everyone involved. Finally, you can even submit your last will to a probate court for safekeeping even before you die.
Hopefully, these answers have been helpful to you. If you’re looking for a good way to keep track of your will or other important documents, reach out to us. We have all the tools you need to ensure that your beneficiaries respect and follow your wishes!
Myend offers the perfect estate and end-of-life planning for all! Regardless of whether you’re young, old, married or single we have a will for you. Have a look here to learn more. And if you’re ready for action, sign up today for your free account! The estate planning of the future is here today.