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When Is a Good Time to Do Your First Will?

Making out a will is a critical and necessary endeavor for anyone, and if you don’t have one yet, it’s time to make this a priority as quickly as possible. Often times, individuals experience some type of major disaster, only to realize they need to preserve their estate for their heirs. However, because the future is uncertain, every individual needs a valid will and one that is currently up to date that is created before the unexpected happens.

There are many parts of life that produce a cause for reflection, and the need to create a will. Some of these moments of reflection can be when a loved one passes, or during a marriage, a birth of a child, a divorce or any other reasons to manage assets. At some point in an individual’s life, their life’s earnings and accumulations will need to be distributed or liquidated as a result of their death.

Creating a will is certainly a better tool than having no estate planning at all. The object of producing and maintaining a will is to give instructions to the court of exactly who and how to administer an estate, upon death. The will should detail exactly how the estate will be distributed. It is used as an instruction guide to the court that provides pertinent information concerning the distribution of assets. Without a will, the state will simply decide on its own exactly how to handle the estate.

Factors to Consider Include:

Deciding on an Executor

The court will look to appoint the executor that is clearly stated in the individual’s will. Hopefully, the executor was chosen by the individual because they have the ability to make quality financial decisions. Even though the individual’s will likely be court-monitored, the executor should still be an individual that can be trusted to work out all the fine details, as is clearly stated in the document.

Divvying up the Knickknacks

While it is certainly not necessary to divvy up every knickknack in the house, as is stated exactly in the will as to who gets what, it is helpful. Many times, more than one legal heir might have developed some type of emotional attachment to a particular piece of personal property that can cause a lot of resentment once the individual has passed. It might be a knickknack that has no actual worth, but is simply enjoy for sentimental value.

A Valid Will

A will is only valid if it follows the strict guidelines as detailed by the state. After the individual passes, their will would most likely be validated by the court system and be placed into “effect” by the court’s granting of probate. To ensure its validity, a valid will must be:

  • Detailed in Writing – The will must be printed, typed or handwritten. Verbal wills are invalid.
  • Signed – For the will to be validated, ideally it must have the signature of the individual at the end of the document (the will) and every page initialed.
  • Witnessed – At least two witnesses will need to be present when the individual is signing their will. After the first signature, each witness will also sign the will, acknowledging that they were present upon the will holder’s signing. However, they need not be present when the other witness is signing the will.

Without all three of these components, the court system may deem it unenforceable.

Altering the Will

Life changes all the time. Individuals become married, and divorced, or gain many more assets (or lose them) and need to alter their will. Many times, there are extenuating circumstances including newborn children, or stepchildren, or other situations that require the will to be altered.

It is generally best to use the skills of an experienced attorney when drawing up a will. This will ensure its validity and to make sure that all wishes of the party have been clearly expressed.

If you have not yet done a will because you are concerned about the cost, please consider one of our affordable estate planning packages.  Find out more by clicking on any of the links below: