What Is a Will?
- A will is a legal document that spells out your wishes regarding the care of your children, as well as the distribution of your assets after your death.
- Failure to prepare a will typically leaves decisions about your estate in the hands of judges or state officials and may also cause family strife.
- You can prepare a valid will yourself, but you should have the document witnessed to decrease the likelihood of successful challenges later.
- To be completely sure everything is in order, consider having your will prepared by a trusts and estates attorney.
Why You Should Have a Will
Some people think that only the very wealthy or those with complicated assets need wills. However, there are many good reasons to have a will.
You can be clear about who gets your assets. You can decide who gets what and how much.
Out of the hands
You can keep your assets out of the hands of people you don’t want to have them (like an estranged relative).
You can identify who should care for your children. Without a will, the courts will decide. Your heirs will have a faster and easier time getting access to your assets. You can plan to save your estate money on taxes. You can also give gifts and charitable donations, which can help offset the estate tax.
A Written, Witnessed Will Is Best
To maximize the likelihood that your wishes will be carried out, create what’s known as a testamentary will.
This is the most familiar type of will; you prepare the document and then sign it in the presence of witnesses.
It’s arguably the best insurance against successful challenges to your wishes by family members or business associates after you die.
You can write one yourself but having it prepared by a trusts and estates attorney tends to ensure it’ll be worded precisely, correctly, and in keeping with your state’s laws.
Other Types of
Wills composed and endorsed by the deceased benefactor yet not saw are known as holographic wills-from the more uncommon optional importance of the word holograph, meaning a report transcribed by its creator. Such wills are frequently utilized when time is short and witnesses are inaccessible, for instance, when the deceased benefactor is caught in a hazardous mishap.
Holographic wills are not perceived in certain states, be that as it may. In states that grant the archives, the will should meet negligible prerequisites, for example, verification that the deceased benefactor composed it and had the intellectual ability to do as such. And still, at the end of the day, the shortfall of witnesses frequently prompts difficulties to the will’s legitimacy.
Least widely recognized are oral wills, in which the testator speaks their wishes before witnesses. Lacking a written record, or at least one prepared by the testator, courts do not widely recognize oral wills.
Another type of will, a pour-over will, is used in conjunction with creating a trust into which your assets flow. (See “Wills and Trusts” below.)
A married or committed couple usually executes this type of will. After one party dies, the remaining party is bound by the terms of the mutual will.
Mutual wills can be used to ensure that property passes to the deceased’s children rather than to a new spouse. Because of state differences in contract law, a mutual will should be established with a legal professional’s help. Though the terms sound similar, a mutual will should not be confused with a joint will.