Last Wills: Making Things Right Even After Death
In a survey made by Gallup last 2021, about 46% of U.S. adults have a will that describes how their money and estates will be managed after their death.
Gallup also recognized that most older American populations have a will compared to younger generations. For ages 65 years old and above, 76 percent have a will. While for ages 18 to 29 years old, only 20% have a will.
Around 45% of adults have a living will, according to Gallups’ 2020 survey.
Last Wills – What Are They?
When somebody dies without last will, it is called dying “intestate.” If a person dies intestate, the laws of the state where they resided at the time of their death will determine the distribution of their property.
People want to take control over what happens to their estate after they pass away. A Last Will, then, gives them this control.
Last wills are written documents in which you, as the “testator,” express your wishes on what should happen to your property after death. The testator must sign and date the will and have it witnessed by two other adults not named in the will. The document typically originates from an attorney and must be signed in the presence of a notary public.
You can also use last wills to express your final wishes, such as a funeral or burial instructions.
With that said estate planning is a significant component of peace of mind. It helps guarantee that someone you trust will manage your affairs when you pass away. Thus creating a last will is an important step in estate planning.
Why Do You Need A Last Will?
Last wills are essential because they allow you to choose who will receive your property when you die and in what proportions they will receive it. If you have young children, the last will let you name a guardian to take care of them. Last wills can also help avoid family fights over your belongings.
Creating your last will is one of the most crucial things you can do for yourself and your loved ones.
The Benefits Of Having Last Wills
Having a Last Will gives you peace of mind, knowing that there’s no unfinished business left when you pass away. With the right language used in the last will, you can delegate an authorized representative to carry out what you wish to happen with your assets after you die.
Last wills can also help avoid family disputes over your property after your death. Aside from being considered as your last words to your loved ones, the last will is a legally binding document. Your family is less likely to argue about what should happen to your belongings.
Without a will, in contrast, the probate court will distribute your assets indiscriminately and in accordance with intestate laws. Of course, such an arrangement might not reflect your intentions exactly.
Also, if you’re the parent or guardian of a minor or child, you can appoint a guardian for them. In the case of a parent or guardian’s death, the last will can help ensure that it is navigated with the care befitting children.
Drafting a last will may seem daunting, but it is best done with the help of a last will attorney.
Simple Way To Create A Last Will
Regarding your final wishes, the last will is one of the essential documents you can create. The process is not overly intricate, but there are some basic steps you need to follow.
First, decide what kind of will you would need. There are two main types of wills – testamentary and living. A testamentary will takes effect only after you die, while a living will takes effect immediately. It would also be wise to choose an executor at this point, someone you fully trust to carry out what is said in your last will.
Second, gather all relevant information. To create a comprehensive last will, you’ll need to collect information about your assets and debts and any final instructions you want to include.
Third, fill out the forms with your information and preferences. Be as specific as possible about who gets what. Once you have everything in order, sign the document before two witnesses. Have your witnesses sign your last will. Then, keep the original copy safe. You can give copies to family members or others who might need them after your death.
What then, can you include in your last will?
What To Include In Your Last Will
When you pass away, your last will is often the only thing between your loved ones and financial ruin. While it may be tempting to put this off, it’s essential to take the time to create a thorough last will. What things should you include?
Have a list of all your assets and debts, including real estate, vehicles, savings accounts, investment accounts, and life insurance policies.
Write to whom you want to receive which assets. For example, you may want to give your investments to your children and leave your home to your spouse.
State whom you want to appoint as your executor—this person will fulfill your wishes. Find a substitute executor if your first choice cannot or won’t serve.
If you have a child, name a guardian in your last will. You can also set up trusts for their care and education.
Include your full name and address.
Make sure your will is properly signed and witnessed according to the probate laws of your state.
Common Mistakes People Make With Their Last Will
When writing the last will, people make many common mistakes. Here are the five most common mistakes:
- Not having a valid will in place. For a will to be valid, it must be properly executed and witnessed.
- Not updating your will regularly. Your will should be updated periodically, especially if there have been significant changes in your life, such as getting married, having children, or buying a new home.
- Not being specific enough. Your will should be as detailed as possible regarding what you want to happen to your assets after you die.
- Not naming an executor. The executor is designated to assume responsibility for carrying out the plans you specified in your death. It is important to name an executor in your will to clarify who should handle your affairs.
- Not having witnesses sign the will.
These common mistakes, however, are easily avoided when you have an experienced last wills lawyer by your side.
The Benefits Of Having A Lawyer Help You Draft Your Will
When it comes to your last will, you want to ensure everything is in order. After all, this is your final opportunity to make things right for your loved ones.
While you could draft your will independently, a lawyer can help you craft your will and prepare your documents properly. They will also ensure that you are leaving behind a valid last will with little to no room for probate litigation later.
Another benefit of having a lawyer help you draft your will is that they can help ensure your will is legally binding. A lawyer for last wills can help you plan for possible challenges to your will after you’re gone. With reliable legal help, you can rest comfortably knowing that someone will care for your affairs. They can also give your loved ones closure during an emotionally trying time.
The Importance Of Keeping Your Last Will Up To Date
If you have significant changes in your life, such as getting married or having children, you will want to reflect those changes in your will. Also, you may have lost some of your assets. You need to indicate that on your will. These are just some reasons you need to update your will. So, frequently evaluate your life and circumstance to see if your will still reflects what you want and what your loved ones need.
Make sure that all of the beneficiaries are aware of the terms of the will. If the will is ambiguous, they may contest the will in court. To avoid this, have a lawyer draft the will or have it reviewed by a lawyer before it is executed. Also, always keep in touch with your lawyer whenever you want to update your will since they will be the ones who will advise you on what to do.
Discussing the inevitable takes work. However, having a plan in case you pass away is vital to the folks you leave behind. If you still need to prepare a will, now is the time.
If you live in San Diego CA, you can book an appointment with Weiner Law to draft your last will. They will ensure that your loved ones feel you care for them, even after your passing.