You hear it everywhere – in internet articles, news items and through chats with loved ones. “A will is an important thing to have.” However, what is often missing from these articles, stories, and talks are the finer points surrounding making a will.
Sadly, they don’t teach you about wills in school (it’s often viewed as a later-in-life concern, one best understood when the time comes). Consequently, a lot of people are left scratching their heads about the basic tenets of, reasons for, and steps to take to create a will.
Let’s remedy that. This article will target three fundamental questions about creating a will: what, why and how?
What Is a Will?
Essentially, a will is a legal document stating your wishes for when you die. It outlines where you want your money, real estate and possessions to go. It allows you to appoint a trustee (or trustees) to take care of your affairs once you pass away. And it ensures that your dependents are cared for through your assets and appointed guardianship.
How Is a Will Different than Power of Attorney?
Whereas a will only takes effect upon your passing away, power of attorney is in effect while you are still alive. It is a written authorization that grants another person (or people) the power to make decisions on your behalf. If you are worried that age or life changes may make you unable to manage your own finances, it’s a good idea to name a power of attorney.
Why Do You Need a Will?
You have spent an entire life accumulating meaningful possessions, valuable real estate and money. What happens to those things upon your death can be up to you – or it can be up to someone else.
In the absence of a will meeting strict legal criteria, standard government rules dictate who inherits your money, possessions and real estate. The people you wanted your assets to go to may need to go to court to protect their legal and financial interests. In the midst of grieving your passing, this can be a painful experience.
The bottom line on why you need a legal will is this: making a will ensures that your possessions and property go to their intended recipients.
How Do You Make a Will?
As mentioned, a will needs to meet strict legal criteria. For that reason, it’s always advisable to hire a lawyer. You want this document to be legally ironclad.
Luckily, the process is very simple. You can find a lawyer online who will draft a personal will for you, either handwritten or holographic. The benefits of using an online lawyer are transparency (they offer fixed price quotes), affordability (you can find the lowest price guaranteed) and accessibility (you can complete the process from the comfort of your home). Further, a legal expert can answer all your many questions not covered by this article.
As a parting note, it’s worthwhile mentioning that it’s never too early to start a will. If you’re an adult in possession of assets, you can – and probably should – start the process.