So you’ve been thinking about what happens after you die, in a non-religious sense. This doesn’t mean you’re a morbid person, just responsible for your assets. Maybe you’ve been thinking about whether or not you need a will, and how to write one in a way that benefits you and your loved ones the most. Writing a will can be emotional and difficult, which is why hiring a lawyer with expertise in estate law is highly recommended. While there are online services that will allow you to write your own will, they are not comprehensive enough to cover the full complexities of an estate plan, even if you don’t consider your assets much of an estate.
Last Will and Testament FAQs
Who should have a will?
A will and an estate plan are recommended for anyone over the age of 18 in the ownership of any assets. While everyone should have some form of an estate plan, there are certain instances in which a person should reevaluate their existing plan, or create one if they don’t have one already. These times are generally when your life changes enough that your will is no longer relevant. This could be when you have a kid, get married, or buy a house.
Why should I care what happens to my stuff after I die?
Even if you no longer care what happens to your stuff, your loved ones might. If you have any beneficiaries, they may rely on it. A well-written will will distribute your assets the way you feel is best and help to reduce confusion and stress in an extremely emotional time in your loved ones’ lives.
What if I’m young? I’m not planning on dying for awhile.
Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start thinking about your estate plan. You may not think you have enough assets to be worth the trouble of writing a will, but leaving it to your loved ones to decide what your best wishes might have been is guaranteed to be more trouble overall. From the age of 18, you are able to start a mini-estate plan. This serves a similar function as opening a savings account for a teenager: it might not have a lot in it, but getting used to it early will help when you’re ready to start gaining assets.
Can I put anything in my will?
Not quite. There are some limitations as far as what a will can cover, for instance, you aren’t allowed to leave assets to your pets or give people money to do illegal things. As far as clauses go, it’s best to discuss your wishes with a lawyer to make sure they’re followed as you want them. If you want a clause saying that anyone who contests your will is automatically written out of it, that is possible but should be reviewed by an attorney.
What’s a nuncupative will?
A nuncupative will or a death-bed will, is a verbally given estate plan, often made during a person’s final moments. They are usually considered invalid, especially if they contradict the person’s already existing will. It is highly recommended not to rely on a death-bed will as your estate plan.
What if I don’t want a specific person in my will?
You don’t have to write anyone into your will if you don’t want to and a good attorney should be able to help you write your will without the help of whoever you’re trying to exclude. Some family dynamics make this impossible, but if you truly don’t want this person to be included in your estate plan you should schedule a personal interview with your lawyer. Family can be messy, but a well-written estate plan should help you make your passing as painless as possible.