Few people relish the thought of dying, yet you ultimately have no say as to whether you will die or the details of your demise – even if you try to extend your lifespan by healthy living and excellent medical care. You do have some control over what happens to your assets after your passing by having a current will.
Who Needs A Will
For younger people, having a will protects minor children or special needs family members who need a guardian if the parent dies; even you have no family obligations you want to continue to take care of, a will controls the disposition of property and other items in your estate and makes your final wishes known. Anyone who has children, property, possessions of value, or a business needs a will to make sure that your estate can be handled promptly with minimal administrative costs and probate taxes.
You should draft a power of attorney for someone to handle your affairs and one to appoint someone to make medical decisions if you are in an accident or become ill. If you have special preferences about your funeral or what you what do with your final remains, you should also make your wishes known in your will.
What Should Your Will Include?
The more complex your estate, the more likely you need to have a lawyer prepare a will and help you develop an estate plan. If you don’t have much, you can prepare your own will or draft something from LegalZoom or other online services. The requirements for a legal will are rather straightforward:
– The Will, must be in writing and must be dated and signed by you, preferably in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries.
– It should state what you want to be done with at least one of your possessions after death.
– Your Will also lists the person you want to be the executor of your estate, along with the names and addresses of your beneficiaries.
– You should list all your assets and where they’re located, including property, personal effects, jewelry, animals, investments, and designate what you want to be done with each of these assets. Sentimental items or heirlooms that you want to go to a specific person, you should list these in the will.
– If you have dependents, they will specify how you want them to be provided for.
– Your Will, should list all debts and the creditors you owe, as the estate will have to settle these debts before your assets are distributed to your heirs. Certain assets, such as life insurance distributions, go directly to the heir and need not go to clear debt.
Keep Your Will Current
Once you prepare a will, you should update it frequently to make sure it reflects your current situation and wishes. If, for example, you remarry, your Will, should specify whether your estate goes to your children or goes to provide for your spouse. If you acquire additional property, you Will, should specify who gets it.
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|Roy Thomas SRES® (Senior’s Real Estate Specialist) is a REALTOR® with Sutton Group Professional Realty. Since 1991 Roy specializes in helping retirees with their later in life real estate transactions. If you are contemplating a move and would like a complimentary copy of Roy’s guide to downsizing entitled “Preparing to Downsize” please click here|