05 Oct Estate Planning 101: Why You Should Create a Will
Creating an estate plan is the best thing you can do to protect your assets and loved ones after you die. Unfortunately, this type of planning can often be confusing and marred in misinformation. In this blog series, we will go over the different aspects of an estate plan, how they work and what to expect when entering into the process.
What is a will?
One of the key components of an estate plan is a “will,” the legal document that contains instructions for how an individual’s assets should be handled after their death. A will’s contents will:
- Appoint an individual to manage your estate
- Explain the distribution of assets
- Assign a guardian of minor children
- Dictate funeral arrangements and requests for final remains
- Indicate how creditors should be repaid
Will also provide flexibility to individuals, regardless of familial situation (e.g. married with or without kids, not married with kids, same-sex couple, etc.). For example, a non-married couple can still set up a will to grant financial support to their partner, whereas state law normally would not allow this.
Why do I need a will?
If a will is not established prior to a person’s passing, then all assets are considered “intestate,” meaning the state will decide how property is distributed. Essentially, this gives up control over who will receive property and the option to choose an individual to manage the estate.
How do I create a will?
Establishing a will is relatively simple, but it’s important to hire an experienced estate planning attorney to help you gather necessary information and write the final document. Together you will:
- Decide what property (e.g. money, real estate, sentimental possessions, etc.) to include in your will and how it will be distributed among heirs
- Determine which specific individuals (i.e. beneficiaries) will receive assets
- Appoint an executor to ensure all wishes are carried out accordingly
- Choose who will be guardian for any minor children
- Sign the final document in front of at least two witnesses and have it notarized
Writing a will is necessary to protect your wealth and determine how it will be distributed after you die, and luckily, it is a fairly simple process. However, you should still consult an estate planning attorney to avoid any costly missteps.