A will is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets and property will be distributed after their death. It allows an individual to specify who will receive their property, how it will be distributed, and who will be responsible for carrying out their wishes. In a will, a person may also name guardians for their minor children, specify funeral arrangements, and designate an executor to manage the distribution of their assets. A will must be signed by the person making it and witnessed by two witnesses to be considered legally valid.
Who can prepare a will?
In general, anyone who is of legal age and sound mind can prepare a will. However, it is recommended that a qualified professional, such as an estate attorney or financial advisor, prepare a will. In the United States, there are 1,315,561 lawyers. These professionals can ensure that the will is legally valid and accurate. It is important to note that do-it-yourself wills or online will templates may not be valid or consider the complexities of an individual’s situation. Therefore, it is recommended to seek the guidance of a qualified professional to ensure that the will is legally binding and meets the individual’s specific needs. Here are a few reasons why everyone should have a will.
1. Control Over Your Assets
According to Gallup, less than half of U.S. adults have a will that describes how their money and estate are to be handled after their death. A will allows you to determine how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. Without a will, your assets would be distributed according to the laws of your state, which may not align with your wishes.
2. Appoint Guardians for Minor Children
If you have minor children, a will allows you to appoint a guardian to care for them in the event of your death. A clear and detailed will can help prevent family conflicts that can arise when there is confusion or disagreement about how assets or guardianship should be distributed. If you have children, this should be one of the first things that you take into account in your will.
3. Minimize Taxes and Expenses
Estate taxes affect estates over $10,860,000 for married couples and $5,430,000 for single individuals. Properly drafted wills can minimize taxes and expenses associated with settling an estate, which can help maximize the value of the assets that are distributed to your beneficiaries. If you’re looking to ensure that your family gets the most out of your money, draft a will.
4. Peace of Mind
Having a will can provide peace of mind knowing that your affairs will be taken care of according to your wishes after you pass away. Without a will, there is no way for anyone to verify what your wishes were. To give yourself peace of mind now, create a will as early as possible. This way you won’t have to worry about it later if you fall ill.
What is included in a will?
A will can include a variety of provisions, depending on the individual’s wishes and circumstances. Here are some examples of what can be put into a will.
- Distribution of assets: A will can specify how an individual’s assets, such as money, real estate, and personal belongings, will be distributed after they pass away.
- Appointment of an executor: A will can name an executor, who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in the will.
- Guardianship of minor children: A will can designate a guardian for any minor children, as well as specify how the children’s assets will be managed.
- Charitable donations: A will can specify any charitable donations or gifts that the individual would like to make after they pass away.
- Funeral arrangements: A will can specify the individual’s preferences for their funeral or memorial service.
- Digital assets: A will can also include provisions for the distribution or management of digital assets, such as online accounts or social media profiles.
It’s important to note that a will may not cover every aspect of an individual’s estate plan. Additional documents, such as a living trust, power of attorney, or healthcare directive, may be necessary to fully address an individual’s wishes and needs.