You Need a Will

Having a will in place can help secure the financial future of your family and help you avoid probate.

We all need a will, and there are many reasons why. Not only does it make life easier for those you leave behind, but it also directly deals with the complicated financial and legal details of your life. Simply put, it clearly makes your wishes known, to everyone, which lessens the burden of those involved.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that specifies how you’d like to divide your assets and belongings. Sometimes wills can be hard to write because they have to meet certain state law regulations to be valid.

They also need to contain specific legalese, or must be signed in a particular way with a certain number of witnesses. However, if you don’t have a lot of assets, it’s possible to create a simple will. There are many online companies you can use to help get you started. Whether you choose to have an attorney create your will, or you decide to create your own, you’ll still want to speak with an attorney who specializes in this area, just to make sure you’ve covered your bases.

Getting started

The steps to start a will are pretty basic. They include choosing an executor, appointing a guardian if you have dependents, and identifying your assets and property.

Choosing an executor and guardian

This is a person close to you that makes sure your assets are distributed the way you want them to be. It can also list who will become a guardian of your children (if they’re still minors) or dependents.

Note: Generally, wills don’t cover life insurance proceeds, certain jointly owned or community property assets, retirement plan proceeds, and revocable living trust assets. Be sure to check and see who is listed as your beneficiaries for these types of plans.

Distributing your assets

Most people leave their assets to spouses and children. If this is the case, you don’t need to create an exhaustive list of who should get what. However, if you have specific items you want to bequeath, you’ll want to list them.

Other important details

You may want to consider adding a letter to your will that details important accounts and passwords so that your executor can easily access and manage them.

Updating your will

Since It’s almost impossible to prepare a will that covers every possible circumstance, it’s a good idea to review it regularly. Here are some good times to review it: marital status changes, adoptions, marriages, deaths, a move to a different state, or significant changes to your finances.

What if i don’t have a will?

If you unexpectedly pass away without a will, the court will distribute your property to your spouse, children, registered domestic partner or next of kin. If you have no heirs, it’s possible that your property will go to the state.