You can write your own will, but a poorly written or out-of-date one can be costly and even ruin a well-planned estate. Individuals or families with relatively simple financial situations may be able to use an online, reputable software program to complete their wills. However, many situations (i.e. blended families, multiple properties, transfer of assets, etc) require an estate planning attorney. A practice that specializes in Elder Law and Estate Planning, such as Vick Law, P.C., can help you create a cohesive will and estate plan that maximizes the benefits to your heirs and explain the tax implications for your estate.
Yahoo Entertainment’s recent article entitled “11 Steps to Writing a Will” may help you to understand what needs to be included and questions to ask your attorney.
- Hire an Estate Planning Attorney: An attorney who focuses on estate planning can help you navigate some of the tax implications to your estate and heirs when it comes to transfer of wealth. Additionally, an estate planning attorney can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried our smoothly.
- Choose your Beneficiaries. A big mistake people make when planning their estate is failing to name or update beneficiaries on key accounts that work with the plans outlined in their wills. The beneficiary designation on an account supersedes the will, but it’s good to be consistent.
- Name an Executor. The executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes expressed in your will.
- Select a Guardian for Your Minor Children. It's common to name multiple guardians, in case one of them named isn’t able to accept the responsibility of guardianship.
- Be Specific About Your Bequests. One of the most time-consuming aspects of creating a will can be deciding which assets to include and determining who will get what.
- Be Realistic About your Bequests. Practically consider how assets will be distributed. A big reason children stop speaking after a parent's death is because of boilerplate language directing tangible assets, such as artwork or jewelry, to be divided equally among children.
- Attach a Letter of Last Instruction. You can attach an explanatory letter that can serve as a personal way to say goodbye and also provide additional details about certain wishes.
- Sign the Will Properly. If you don’t, it may be declared invalid. Witnesses must sign your will, and in many states, the witnesses can't be under 18 and those who stand to inherit (“interested parties”).
- Keep Your Will in a Safe and Accessible Spot. Make certain that someone you trust knows where to find it and other important papers and passwords to financial institutions.
- Review and Keep Your Will Up-to-date. It should be updated every five years or so, or sooner if you have a major life event, such as the birth or adoption of a new child or grandchild, a divorce, or the death of a spouse or parent.
- Add Other Important Estate Planning Documents. A will by itself may not meet all of your estate planning needs. A trust is another estate planning tool that lets you transfer assets when and how you want. A living will communicates your desires for medical treatment or a power of attorney that allows a third party to make financial and legal decisions, creating this document should be your next step.
Please feel free to contact Vick Law, P.C. in Greenwood, IN to discuss creating your will and estate plan today.
Reference: Yahoo Entertainment (Jan. 4, 2022) “11 Steps to Writing a Will”