Did you know that more than half (54%) of American adults don’t have a will? This means if they were to pass on today, it would be up to the courts to determine how their estate will be distributed.
Does this describe your situation currently? If that’s the case, then it’s a serious issue. Because after your death, your assets and money would be distributed to people that you might not care about, or it might all end up with the government if you have no possible beneficiaries.
If you have good mental faculties, right now is the time for writing a will that dictates exactly how you want your assets to be divided up after your demise.
Let’s read on to see some tips for writing a will.
Don’t Delay or Procrastinate
No one ever thinks that they will be the one who will end up in a fatal accident or have a deadly heart attack or stroke. Of course, you think you will have a long, healthy life and you have nothing to worry about when it comes to writing a will.
Even then, death is something none of us can avoid. It’s coming. Sometimes sooner rather than later.
The point here is to ensure you don’t delay any more than is necessary to write out a will so that your estate gets distributed exactly according to your wishes. If you delay too long, it could end up that you pass away without writing a will at all. Or you might lose your mental faculties so your will wouldn’t be valid anymore.
Take care of this all-important document right now! Not later, but now, when you are still alive, well, and thinking straight.
Don’t Get Bogged Down by Details
It’s easy to get into analysis-paralysis mode because you worry about the details of your last will. But the more you delay due to this, the more likely it is that you end up without a will.
It’s better to be 90% sure about all the details of your will and to put them down as such than to be 100% sure but never write them down in time.
You never know when your last moments will be upon you. Hopefully, you will live a long fulfilling life. But perhaps fate has a different plan for you.
Forget about the nitty-gritty details and write down the overarching principles of how you want your estate distributed. Remember, you can always change your mind down the road.
Don’t Choose the Wrong Person as Your Executor
You might think that giving the ‘honor’ of being your estate’s executor is going to make someone extremely pleased. But being an executor isn’t a day in the park. It’s an important role that should be allotted to someone who has experience with it and can execute it with finesse and precision.
Also, don’t choose a person who is already overburdened with a hundred other responsibilities and who wouldn’t be able to give the role the proper time, effort, or care that it requires. Being an executor is a heavy responsibility and takes a lot of time, which is why the person should be chosen with extreme care.
Don’t Think an Online Form for Will Writing Will Suffice
Too many people are trying to save a few bucks by going online and picking a free will document to fill in with their details. It’s similar to self-prescription – it might work for your symptoms, but in most cases, it won’t, and it will end up causing more problems than good.
That’s why you need to speak to a real person, who can answer all your questions about setting up a will or about estate planning.
Do Choose Alternatives for Your Executor and Will
Whenever you are setting up anything related to your estate and will, ensure that you have backups in mind and assign those roles in your will. This is because you never know what the future holds.
You might imagine that your executor will outlive you, but what if you both end up passing away at the same time? Or what if they end up refusing to be your executor after your demise because it’s too painful for them?
There’s no way to predict all this, but you can avoid the repercussions by choosing backups for both your executor and for all the items on your will. If every single one of your beneficiaries ends up passing away before you, you will want to choose a couple of charities or organizations to donate your monies to. This will take care of all eventualities, hopefully.
Do Think Long and Hard about What to Include in a Will
You don’t need to think of writing a will as a burden, but as a joyful thing that you get to do. You’ve worked hard all your life accumulating the assets you have now.
And now you get to distribute all these assets to people that you love, charities you admire, or loyal employees. It should be a fun and dynamic opportunity for you to bestow gifts upon the lovely people in your life.
Make it a sort of game for yourself, and think about how you would like to take care of the people in your life after your demise. It’s a privilege to be able to do this and you should think of it as such.
Do Understand How to Pass Things to Your Friends/Charities
There are probably people besides your immediate family that you would want to pass some gifts to after your death.
These could be loyal employees who have been with you forever. Or it could be a caregiver that took painstaking care of you. Or it could be nieces, nephews, cousins, or far-away relatives who are doing good in the world that you wish to support.
However, inheritance laws generally don’t allow for the distribution of your assets to people who aren’t immediate family. Including friends in your will can be the source of unnecessary litigation after your death.
You might need to make a separate list or testamentary document describing the things you’d like to pass to your friends, charities, and others. But, the best way to ensure these parties receive a share of your estate is to gift them when you’re still alive and of sound mind. Be sure to consult with your estate planning attorney.
Also, if you have minor children, don’t forget to establish guardianship in your will.
Do Keep Making Any Revisions That Might Be Necessary
Remember that your will isn’t set in stone. You can keep making revisions to it until the day you die. And it’s quite common for folks to do this because things change, people die, organizations move around or charities go bankrupt.
You will want to update an outdated will that you wrote 20 years ago. This way your current wishes will be reflected in it, rather than something you thought up as a different person back then.
Also, ensure that you include your funeral wishes in your will, especially if you are getting close to an age where that would truly matter to you. You don’t want them to bungle up your funeral by including people, decor, or music that you don’t care for.
Do Work with an Attorney Who Specializes in Wills and Estate Planning
Too many people have wills that haven’t been drawn up properly because they never consulted with a lawyer or a law firm that specializes in writing wills. Don’t let this happen to you.
You don’t want the people in your life to end up with nothing because you made a crucial mistake in writing up your will. There are so many nuances to the law nowadays, and it’s always in flux as well.
Maybe the will you wrote was accurate 20 years ago, but now it wouldn’t work well enough or could even be thrown out if taken to court.
Your loved ones are going to be suffering enough due to their loss. Don’t put an additional burden on them by having them go to court to fight for what’s rightfully theirs.
Let a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer deal with the weird tangle of inheritance laws, taxation and duties entailed, and administration fees. This way you can rest in peace knowing that you did your best both in life and death.
Writing a Will: Do It the Right Way
Perhaps writing a will used to be easy as pie back in the day when people didn’t have as many assets sprawled across the world, and tax and inheritance laws were pretty straightforward. But as the world gets more complicated, it’s more likely you will end up with will writing mistakes if you don’t speak to an expert about it.
If you wish to protect your assets and allow for a smooth transition to the next generation, contact Smith Barid. We have both virtual and face-to-face meetings, making it convenient for you.