1. A Will Can Meet the Needs of Many
A will gives you the opportunity to dictate how your estate should be distributed and make provisions for the care of any minor children. It is important to note that if you do not create a legally binding estate plan, when you die, the state will make all of those important decisions for you. State law will dictate who inherits your estate and a court may decide what happens to your children. Creating a will allows you to make your wishes for your family and assets known and followed.
2. A Will Can Be Replaced or Changed
If you find that your current will no longer expresses your wishes, you can make changes as you see fit. You can either create an addendum called a codicil or make a new will altogether. It is important that any changes to your existing will meet legal statutes and standards. A codicil must be in writing and you have to sign it. A codicil also needs to be signed by two witnesses and notarized. If you make improper edits to your will, it may be considered invalid and not be recognized by the courts. Never handwrite changes to your Will on the will itself. It will invalidate the will.
Instead of a codicil, can simply revoke your will and create a new will. One way to revoke the original will is to simply destroy it. You can also create a new will and use the appropriate language to state that you are revoking the previous will. If you are considering changing your will, it is always advisable to consult with an attorney to make sure that the changes are executed correctly and are legally valid.
3. Probate May Be Avoided, Depending on the Type of Assets You Own
When you pass away, your will may be presented and processed in the courts through a system called probate. Depending on the type of assets you have, your estate may be required to go through probate, or you may be able to avoid this process altogether. If your estate is only made up of assets that are directly transferred to the beneficiary, your estate may be able to avoid going through the courts. Assets such as life insurance policies and payable on death bank accounts pass directly to the designated beneficiary without any court interference.
If your estate has assets that do not pass directly to the beneficiary, it may be subject to probate. People often want to avoid probate because it is a public process, which means the terms of your will become part of the public record. Many people prefer to avoid these items and choose other estate planning methods such as a trust.
4. You Will Need to Appoint a Personal Representative
It is not enough to just create a will; you also need to appoint an executor to oversee and execute it. You need to pick a responsible, trustworthy and capable person to act as your estate’s executor. This person will need to present your will to the court and meet all legal filings and deadlines. Being an executor is an important role and he or she can hire legal assistance at the expense of the estate. Choose your executor wisely.
5. A Living Will and a Last Will and Testament Are Two Separate Documents (Both Are Very Important)
A last will and testament takes effect at the time of your death. It is usually referred to as a will and used to disburse your estate after death. A living will goes into effect while you are still alive, but when you are either in a vegetative state and/or have no chance of recovery. A living will addresses your willingness to “have the plug pulled” in the event you are unable to communicate this decision to your loved ones. A living will is an important document to have in place; it provides your designated representative guidelines regarding critical, life and death, medical decisions.
6. Revisit Your Will—Odds Are You Will Need to Revise It
Marriage, divorce, children and so much more happen within our lifetimes. It is important that your estate planning documents reflect the changes that happen. Revisit your will regularly. Make sure it reflects your life changes and your wishes.
Whether you are starting from scratch or have questions about your existing will, I’m here to help. Call the office today and let’s talk about your situation. I will help you put together all of the documents that will meet your needs.