Writing a will isn’t necessarily something you want to consider, but it’s key to making sure your assets are divided as you want. It can also be done easily by following a few basic tips. Keep reading to learn more, and don’t forget to start your search for wills and estates attorneys at DexKnows.
If you don’t have a will
Each state has its own “intestate” laws, which are laws that deal with what happens if someone dies without a will. Usually, if you have a spouse and children, they will inherit your property. Next in line would be your parents, brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews.
What a will should contain
Most wills contain four parts. These sections address:
- How final bills will be paid
- How estate taxes, inheritance taxes and the cost of settling your estate will be paid
- Who will be executor of your will, or the person in charge of settling your estate, and who will be guardian of your children if you have children
- Who will get the remainder of your estate and when
Tips for making a will
Keep in mind the following as you start preparing your will:
- Make a plan — You want to be the one to decide who gets what, not the state. Make a plan and decide how you want to split your assets. Make sure to identify yourself by name and address, just in case there’s another person with the same name. You also want to declare in the will that you are “of sound mind” and acting under your own free will. Making a will is important no matter what your circumstance, whether you are starting a family, own a business, are in a same-sex relationship in a state that doesn’t honor it, or are considering divorce.
- Write out a list — List what you own, including financial items such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts and what’s in your bank account. Think of whether there’s anything special such as heirlooms that you would want to go to a specific relative or friend. Also, identify any other valuables, antiques or collectibles you want to go to survivors. By writing everything out first, you are more likely to make sure not to miss anything as you write your will. If possible, include contact information of the people to whom you want to distribute your assets.
- Name an executor — Think about whom you want to be in charge of carrying out your wishes. Make sure to pick someone you trust and talk to the person about what you want. Name an alternative in case something happens to the person you originally name or the person can’t do it for whatever reason. Remember to add to your will that you authorize your executor to pay your debts, funeral expenses and taxes. That way, all that is out of the way before the remaining estate is split. Check with state law to see what laws are in effect regarding who may be an executor.
- Seek professional guidance — There may be laws with which you are unfamiliar regarding estates. An estate planning attorney can give you advice on how to avoid probate court, reduce estate taxes and protect your assets.
- Type your will — Handwritten wills risk the problem of someone misreading them. It’s best to type your will, make a printout and protect the file. Keep the instructions as clear as possible. Remember to sign it and have someone witness the signing.
These tips will make sure your assets are split as you would like. If you are in need of legal advice, don’t forget DexKnows wills and estates attorneys.