When writing a will, it’s important to know all the legal rules and regulations that are involved in the process. Especially in terms of estate planning, drafting a will should be done in a meticulous manner, one that plays especially close attention to those fine-print details. Unfortunately, many people think that estate planning is only for upper-class citizens when it comes to wealth, but what they don’t know is that all people, regardless of their bank account, can benefit from estate planning. As soon as an estate owner dies, an estate plan ensures legal protection and distribution based on the owner’s wishes and the needs of his or her family members. Writing a will is the first step in estate planning.
Writing a will clearly states how one would like his or her property to be distributed upon death. According to a recent article published by USA.gov:
“Writing a will can be as simple as typing out how you want your assets to be transferred to loved ones or charitable organizations after your death. If you don’t have a will when you die, your estate will be handled in probate, and your property could be distributed differently than what you would like,” (USA.gov, Writing a Will).
Writing a will is vital when it comes to knowing who gets rights to a land owner’s property, and which ways the property should be divided up – or, who gets what. It may seem like a big step to take, especially if you are in good health, but given that anything can happen at anytime, it’s important to prepare for what steps to take in case something does happen.
Getting legal advice is particularly useful when writing a well, especially if you are confused about the legalities correlated with will-writing. According to USA.gov, there are a few key rules to remember if you or a loved one are thinking about writing a will. These rules go as followed:
“First, in most states, you must be 18 years of age or older. Second, a will must be written in sound judgment and mental capacity to be valid. Third, the document must clearly state that it is your will. Fourth, an executor of your will, who ensures your estate is distributed according to your wishes, must be named. And finally, that it is not necessary to notarize or record your will but these can safeguard against any claims that your will is invalid. To be valid, you must sign a will in the presence of at least two witnesses,” (USA.gov, Writing a Will).
This rules are extremely important to know before you start writing a will. However, it’s also important to know that the rules change according to state. For instance, various states have different community-property laws that automatically give a surviving spouse half of your earnings after you pass, no matter what percentage you have chosen.
If you feel obligated, you may want to hire an executor, the person whose job is to settle arguments regarding the estate after the owner’s death. An executor is obliged to appraise and distribute assets, pay taxes, settle debts owed by the owner, and take inventory of belongings and property. Along with these duties, perhaps the most important role of the executor is to act in the interests of the deceased and following his or her wishes provided by the will. It is with strong regards to hire an attorney or any sort of legal guidance when choosing an executor. If the executor you have in mind happens to have been involved with some sort of felony, he or she cannot carry-out those duties. But, as long as the person is over 18 years old and has a clean record, they are eligible to be an executor for the deceased person’s will when it comes to estate planning.
Lastly, you will have to choose beneficiaries. As a will is being written, the decision of who should legally inherit the deceased person’s assets should be made. Primary beneficiaries are those who the estate owner chooses to first receive assets. According to USA.gov, “If your primary beneficiary dies before you do or does not meet a conditions (ex. age) for inheritance, your secondary beneficiaries will receive your assets,” (USA.gov, Writing a Will). Both primary and secondary beneficiaries should be designated wisely and should also be added on the estate owner’s individual bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, deeds to his or her home, and investment and insurance policies. This is to make sure it’s easier to transfer the deceased person’s assets.
Remember that throughout the entire process of writing a will, the estate owner should be constantly reviewing his or her estate plan to be sure that everything will be carried out smoothly after he or she passes. For more information on how to go about writing a will and what to expect, please read USA.gov’s article on will-writing here.