Wills are extremely important. They detail how you wish your legacy to continue. Additionally, they describe how your assets should be distributed once you die.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a will. Approximately 40 percent of the adult population, that’s four in 10 individuals, have some form of an estate-planning document. Some haven’t made the time to do so. Others are afraid of creating a document detailing their afterlife.
At some point, you have to create a will. If not, what you have put aside for your family can’t be properly distributed. They may end up in dire financial situations while the estate is verified through the courts.
This is why you want to sit down and write your will as soon as possible. As you do, here are 3 things to keep in mind.
Get Some Help with It
It’s important to know that it’s not always easy to create your own will, particularly if you have several children, or own multiple properties. There are many legal details that you may need help understanding in order to ensure your will is clear and legally sound.
Some wills are too complicated to create on your own. You might have to deal with trusts, non-profit organizations, or various properties in your possession. In this situation, as a Texas resident, you may want to speak to a Houston probate lawyer.
These types of attorneys, who work at firms like Troy M. Moore, review your will to verify if the court accepts it as a true last testament of the deceased. Together, you confirm your assets and how they are divided. Additionally, the probate lawyer determines possible legal challenges.
Understand There Will Be Changes
Your initial will is not the last. Consider it your first draft. As your family or financial situations change so does your will.
Most likely, you’ll need to review it on an annual basis to make any necessary adjustments. For instance, it might need changes if you get divorced and eventually remarry. In another example, you sold a piece of property listed on a previous version of the will. In turn, the assets gained from the transaction may need to be redistributed.
Also, understand that delays in making these adjustments affect your family. Anything left out after your death is going to be contested in court. As a result, your family might not be able to move on.
You Need to Name an Executor
The executor is a representative responsible for the administration of your estate after your death. Sometimes this is a relative. In other instances, it’s an attorney. They perform two major duties in that role. First, they ensure all of your debts are paid. Second, they distribute the remaining amount of assets to those listed in the will.
Take careful consideration of the entity that becomes the executor. You don’t want to bring in an unreliable individual. They might take too much time to close accounts. In turn, your family could incur the payment of your debts.
Designating a family member as the executor is at no cost to you. However, it’s an added stress to what they already feel after your death. Instead, consider a legal firm or company that deals in executing the terms of a will.
One thing you can do to make it easier for whomever you chose is to get everything organized. Place all of your important documents in one location. This can be at your home, a storage unit, or in a bank safety deposit box. Let the executor know where they are. If at the bank or a storage depot, provide them with the necessary means to access the material.
Generally, you want to make the will’s execution as seamless as possible. If you don’t keep everything in one location, the executor spends more time finding the material instead of paying debts or distributing assets. This draws everyone deeper down a rabbit hole of depression.
In the end, writing a will is a critical component of adulthood and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Yes, you’re writing about life after your death. However, without a legally binding document to determine how to take care of debts and your family, everyone remains in limbo until the courts figure it out.
Thus, take careful considerations when you create your will. Reach out to probate attorneys if you require additional help. Furthermore, speak with your spouse and children to determine if they have any requests. Though a morbid conversation, they’ll be grateful that you made the time to get your affairs in order.
Author information: Sheryl Wright is a freelance writer whose passions include cooking, interior design, and true crime novels. If she is not at home reading, she is at a farmers market or antique shop. She currently lives in Nashville, TN, with her cat, Saturn.