Everything You Need to Know About Making a Will
Making a will doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be a valid legal document. A financial advisor is a great asset to have to make sure that all of your documents are in order.
Updated on Feb 10 2020
Making a will doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be a valid legal document. That is, you can’t just jot who you want to leave your estate to on a wrinkled sheet of paper and call it good. A financial advisor is a great asset to have to make sure that all of your documents are in order.
Things to consider when making a will
Generally, wills aren’t necessary for larger assets. For the most part, bank accounts or your home will go to the joint partner, while retirement accounts and life insurance policies have beneficiaries. So, what should you consider when you are making a will?
- Name a guardian - If you have children who are under 18 years old, then you must have a will and it needs to name a guardian for them. Without a will, the court will be forced to get involved and name a guardian. This is a very large decision, so it’s one that should be made by you and not the courts.
- Find an executor - An executor is someone who carries out your will. This person will deal with all of your accounts, etc. after your death. Executors pay taxes and debts, will close your accounts, and go about distributing the items in your will. Many people choose a relative, but a financial advisor is not uncommon. An advisor will be familiar with the ins and outs of wills, so there will be less room for error if they handle it.
Your will can be handwritten, however, you will need to make sure that it contains critical information like your signature, date signed, address, and beneficiaries. If you decide to go the handwritten route, then you should see an attorney or financial advisor to ensure your will is valid. According to Legal Zoom, there are a handful of essential items for will making, such as that the will must be made voluntarily, it must distribute your property, and it cannot have any staples removed.
How to write a simple will
The simplest way to create a will is by preparing a checklist and completing the main points. An easy checklist to start planning should include beneficiaries, assets, debts, the executor, and guardians.
Once you organize these five checkpoints, you are ready to create a will and speak with a lawyer or financial planner.
Is there anything a will can’t guarantee?
A valid will cannot control everything when it comes to your estate planning. If you’ve designated a beneficiary, the beneficiary gets the life insurance no matter what you may state in your will. If you wish for this to be a different person, then you need to update the beneficiary with your life insurer. This works the same way with your retirement accounts—the beneficiary will get the money, regardless of what your will says. Joint checking and bank accounts will go to the survivor even if the will says otherwise. Something else to think about is any kind of joint property like real estate or cars. These will go to the surviving party.
Consult with a financial advisor for your situation
While wills aren’t hard to create, you may find peace of mind if you use a financial advisor specializing in estate planning. Creating a will can be an emotionally-charged time, so having an unbiased authority is a good option. Procrastinating on a will can potentially cost you thousands of dollars and cause heartbreak in the long run.
When you are writing a will, you may find that you are unprepared for other financial milestones. Use our financial planning checklist to make sure you’re on track.
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