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More than half of Americans don’t have a will or any estate planning for the future. Thinking about writing a will is something most try to avoid. It has to get done while you have your wits or your loved ones may get left out.
If you want your family to have a say in how you go and your estate, prepare your will now. The earlier you start preparing a will, the better. You can refine it later but get down the basics in writing first.
For more information, this short guide will clarify laws about writing a will, how they’re used, and ways to protect your wishes. This is what you need to know before making your will.
What is Considered a Will?
A will isn’t any old piece of paper with your last wishes written down. Things need legal verification to hold up in court. That means your will needs to have legal requirements so that your wishes cannot get misinterpreted.
A will includes both financial holdings and priceless mementos. You get to divide up your estate anyway you want. This can be a giant laundry list of specifics or a simple proportional division.
Life insurance policies and retirement plans must be handled separately. Whatever you write in your will about them will not change the terms and benefactors chosen when you opened them.
Just check to make sure you have all of your account information correct.
Why You Need an Attorney
Legally, you can prepare your will without an attorney. You can also represent yourself in court, but neither options are recommended. By writing your own will without legal advice, you’re bound to make mistakes or leave things out.
You’ll also need to adhere to requirements based on your state. Some states are more strict than others on regulations of wills. Trying to understand estate planning procedures can be confusing. The only way to make certain that your wishes get carried out is with the power of attorney.
You want to hire an estate planning attorney San Diego to help ensure everything aligns with the letter of the law. This is especially useful when dealing with spousal arrangements with children and property from a previous marriage. By default, these laws will prioritize the current spouse over all others.
Witnesses and Notarization
When you’re in the process of notarizing and confirming the drafting of your will, you will need to have a witness. This witness should not be included in your will. If your attorney is preparing a will, then they cannot be considered a witness either.
In California, however, witnesses are not a legal requirement. It does, however, provide extra security and legitimacy to your will. You can likewise have witnesses sign an affidavit to avoid needing all parties in the same room when it is authorized.
Dividing Up Property
On the off chance that you wish to leave certain individual property to specific beneficiaries, specify this in your will. Moreover, you can make a separate letter of guidance that you should keep with your will.
A Letter of Instruction, which is recognized in California, can be composed more casually than a will and can really expound on which things go to whom. You can likewise incorporate specifics about any number of things that will enable your lawyer to settle your home including account numbers, passwords, and even entombment guidelines.
Another choice is to leave everything to one heir who knows your desires for dividing your own estate. This, obviously, is hazardous on the grounds that you’re depending on this individual to respect your goals without coming up short. Consider this when choosing your heir.
Where Should You Store a Will?
We’ve all seen those movies or TV shows where the grandparents pass away, leaving behind their will. The moment of truth is often a surprise to all members of the family, of course. Sometimes the will is found in a safe box, other times it gets read by the executor who has the only access to it.
A probate court generally requires your unique will before it can process your wishes, so it’s essential to guard the record yet be accessible. Choose to put the will in a bank safe box that no one but you can get into. Your family may need to look for a court request to retrieve it. A waterproof and flame resistant safe in your home is a decent option if you’d rather keep it in your possession.
Your lawyer or somebody you trust should keep marked duplicates in the event that the first gets lost or destroyed. Marked duplicates are good for sharing your decision with family. In any case, the primary will needs a notary and legal approval before you do anything else.
Should You Change Your Will Often?
Some people commit to their first will in writing, while others change it to account for new wealth or circumstances. The choice is yours. If you do make changes, make sure you go over the will again and have your attorney check for any errors.
With that said, you might need to return to your will if life/circumstances change. This might mean the end of a marriage, a new birth, or the death of another. This is the best practice, rather than updating your will every year for minor revisions.
Preparing a Will for Legal Challenges
The most difficult part of preparing a will is preventing any loopholes or ways for unsavory members to challenge its power. Family members often turn on each other when a large inheritance is concerned. You’ll need to make sure you have an attorney who can keep language clear and concise.
If you’re interested in learning more about preparing for life, both the present and thereafter, we recommend reading the Florida Independent. You can find more expert advice on home, business, and health and fitness. Arm yourself with experience, knowledge, and the autonomy that comes with it.