Do you know what will happen to your family after you pass away? Are you sure your assets will go to the people who need it most?
Writing a will ensures the people you love are taken care of when you can no longer take care of them yourself. A survey shows that a shocking 50% of Americans with children don't have a will - meaning they'll never know what happens to their family or belongings when they're gone.
Here are a few things to consider during your will preparation that will keep you out of that percent.
Don't Choose a Joint Will, Even If You're Married
A joint will may seem appealing to couples. If one spouse dies, all the joint possessions remain with the living spouse. But, a joint will can only be changed with the consent of both partners.
This becomes a problem if one of the partners dies before the other.
Because a joint will remains in effect until both partners pass away, the living spouse becomes unable to make necessary updates to the will if their circumstances change. This gets complicated if they decide to move, remarry, or have another child.
Though their wills may be very similar, couples should still get individual wills. Having their own will provides each spouse the flexibility they need if their partner dies.
Choose Your Personal Representative Wisely
A personal representative is someone who will execute the wishes of your will when the time comes.
Your first choice may be a trusted family member, but the pressure of executing your will could become a burden for a family member during an already stressful time. Picking an attorney can keep your business running smoothly without overwhelming a family member.
You should also consider choosing an attorney to witness your will.
A witness should never be a beneficiary (someone who will receive something from your will). Instead, to avoid potential conflicts of interest, you should choose an unbiased party, known technically as a disinterested witness.
Be Prepared to Update Your Will
Realizing you'll have to update your will is an essential part of will preparation.
You may not have to do this often, and depending on your circumstances, you may not have to do it at all. But you may need to change beneficiaries around if you get another grandchild or realize one of your children isn't as financially responsible as you thought.
Don't Put If Off
You don't know what will happen when, but you don't want to leave the ones you love scrambling in your absence.
Write your will long before you think you'll need it.
During your will preparation, you should understand everything about proper witnesses, personal representatives, beneficiaries, etc. There are numerous avenues for researching the components of a Last Will and Testament online or at your local bookstore or library. Even easier than that is to meet with a lawyer who specializes in will preparation. It's what they do!
If you write your will on your own and make a mistake, your assets may not be handed out the way you wanted. For this reason, it is more reassuring to hire a wills and estate lawyer to help in preparing your will - they will make sure it's done correctly and to your specifications.
With the right legal advice, you can keep your peace of mind. You'll know you've taken care of the ones you love when the time comes.