Although it’s a difficult topic to think about, it can be very important to create a will to protect assets upon an untimely death. If one dies without establishing a will, then the state will decide what happens to the person’s property. The state will decide how assets will be divided, and which ones will be sold. The judge will appoint an administrator to oversee the entire process. This person will most likely be a stranger, and therefore will not have any vested interests in protecting families. Although this process seems straightforward, probate cases can last for years, and the outcome may not be desirable.
Do you need a lawyer when creating a will?
Today, there are many websites that help laypersons design a will so that they do not need an attorney. However, these websites may not take into account individual state law when creating wills. If the will lacks the appropriate witness signatures or does not take into account specific laws pertaining to the state in which it is filed, it may be deemed invalid by a judge. While you may not need an attorney to create a will, you may benefit from consulting with with one to prevent crucial mistakes.
What should be included when creating a will?
You should include all of our assets when creating a will. Before meeting with an attorney, document everything on paper, including:
- Bank accounts
- Valuable jewelry or artwork
- Stocks/Bonds/Mutual Funds
There are plenty of other assets, but these are some to consider before meeting with an attorney. When meeting with the attorney, you may want to also include specific directives for your assets. For example, you may want certain family members to receive certain assets.
You may also be asked to establish guardians in the event that you have children. If you have minor children, then you may want to have one person monitor their daily needs, and another monitor their finances. If a child is above 18, you may want to place a portion of their money in trust until they reach a certain age where they can monitor the money effectively.
After your will is created, are you done?
After you’ve completed your will, you should still meet with an attorney every three to five years to go over the will. Often, circumstances change, and the will may need to be updated. For example, a child may reach legal age and no longer require guardians. You may have another child who should be included in the will. You may also acquire additional assets that need documenting. For example, a personal injury lawyer Washington DC trusts may have helped you get the compensation you deserve through a personal injury award.
After creating a will, make sure to keep it in a safe place. Some people place their will in a safe deposit box, but this can pose problems after an untimely death. In many instances, family members may have to ask for permission from the court to open the safe deposit box. Instead, you should consider placing it somewhere that is accessible, such as in a home safe.
Creating a will can protect family members, and can also streamline the process after a death. Therefore, it is very important to consult with an attorney so that you create a will that will not be invalidated in court.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into things to consider when creating a Will.