The Importance of a Will
A will is a legal document that entails the wishes of a person once they die. These wishes name an executor of the estate, specify those that will inherit property, pinpoint caretakers to pets, etc. In the absence of the will, the state decides how to proceed after the death of a loved one, leaving those in the process of grief subject to the rules of a higher power and possibly causing frustration due to a lack of decision-making for a loved one who has passed.
How the Lack of a Will Affects a Family
Every state has a different set of rules that dictate how an estate is to be handled. Many of times, the state will distribute remaining property, money, etc. much differently than the deceased would have, and the line of inheritance will typically put spouses, children, or parents as the initial benefactors. Family members will have next to no say in how an estate is dealt with and succumb to the power of the state. The absence of a will may also create family conflict, as members may feel entitled to land, money, etc. that others feel as thought they deserve. To circumvent this, people can create a will to specify their desires.
What to Include in a Will
Wills can include but are not limited to:
- Executors of an estate
- Benefactors to property, money, etc.
- Guardians to children
- Caretakers for pets
- Specific funeral instructions
Executors are legal representatives that handle estates. They are responsible for locating wills, contacting beneficiaries and allocating their inheritance to them, paying debts of the deceased, and much more. Essentially, they are the people that carry out the wishes of a person’s will and ensure that their financial plans are handled in a timely, succinct manner.
Who to Consider When Creating a Will
Depending on the estate and how much there is going to be left behind once someone dies, there are a number of people to consider when creating a will, including but not limited to:
- Spouses, past and present
- Children, especially if they are disabled and need care
- Immediate family
- Distant Family
Changes to a Will
Life evolves, and a will should do the same. Generally, it is a good idea to update a will every five years, and it is important to do so when there are large life changes, such as:
- Death of a beneficiary
- Conclusion of a friendship
- Birth of a child or grandchildren
- New joint accounts
- New assets
A will must meet legal requirements to be valid. Wills must be signed by the person that created it, typed, and have two witnesses in order to be legitimate. Moreover, the person must be an adult that comprehends what their will does and who it gives property, money, etc. to. Some states do allow handwritten wills, but it is important to note that these can complicate situations once the person is deceased.
Lawyers are not a necessity when it comes to creating a will; however, difficult situations, lack of knowledge, and an exorbitant amount of questions can benefit from a professional. It is of great import to remember that much of this is not common knowledge, or even acknowledged for that matter, so seeking extra help is not out of the ordinary. In fact, it could prevent future problems to have a lawyer present when a will is being written to ensure that it is clear and addresses the most important points.