Updated: February 2, 2023
Are you thinking about having a will made? Well, It is never too early to consider drafting your will, but there are a few important times to note. The earliest a US citizen is able to legally write a valid will is when they hit the age of 18. One may not have any assets of their own at that point, but it is important to know who you'd like for your belongings to go to in the event of an untimely passing.
Once you have accumulated money or other assets, drafting a will becomes imperative so your family knows who is entitled to what belongings, and this can cover immediate family and dependent children, extended family, and charity.
Avoid complications and get help from a wills and estates attorney to get your wishes in order.
Types of Wills
There are four main types of wills - simple, testamentary trust, joint, and living. There are also two other forms of wills that are not legally binding and valid in all states. Those wills are holographic wills, which are handwritten, and oral wills. Oral wills may also be referred to as nuncupative.
A simple will is a most commonly used will, and the one most individuals are familiar with. It is often referred to as a last will and testament. A simple will is a legal document that states the final wishes of the decedent, distribution of assets and family heirlooms (if applicable), will have information regarding any life insurance policies owned by the decedent, and can help the family avoid a lengthy probate process.
The next type of will is the testamentary trust. A testamentary trust is established in accordance with the instructions listed in the last will and testament (simple will) and is a relationship that allows a third party (trustee) to manage the assets for the beneficiaries.
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Next is a joint will, which is a legal document that encompasses the wills of two individuals, typically a married couple. A joint will is essentially a simple will that is executed by an attorney and dictates how goods are delegated.
Lastly, a living will covers all medical treatments and medical interventions that one would and would not like used on them in the event of a major life event that renders them incapable of making their own medical declarations.
All wills should be drafted by a lawyer in conjunction with an estate planning attorney, contain information regarding your minor children or an adult child, basic estate planning documents, funeral instructions, burial instructions or cremation instructions (where applicable), durable power of attorney, etc.
Why You Should Have a Will
Writing a will can be a difficult time and an emotional time, but a will gives your family peace of mind at the time of your passing and will relieve an immense amount of stress for them. Possibly more importantly, a will allows you to direct and delegate all belongings, such as bank accounts or financial accounts, tangible assets, and real estate.
Furthermore, a will also dictates who does not have access to your belongings. This helps your family know exactly what your last wishes are and does not put your loved ones through the stress of making decisions about estate planning or dealing with complicated estate issues.
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Having a living will furthers that stress reduction by letting your loved ones know the type of care you would like in the event that you are unable to advocate for yourself, assigning the responsibility of durable health care power of attorney, potential arrangements for hospice care, and expectations for prescription pain medicine and quality of life.
What a Will Can Cover
The components of a will should cover a multitude of things, including the distribution of assets, medical powers, a basic estate plan, personal property, retirement accounts, funeral preparations and plans, and information regarding any funeral arrangements that have been pre-planned or pre-paid. A good rule of thumb when drafting a will is to have a plan for everything.
Why You Should Have a Lawyer Help Outline a Will
An estate planner or a lawyer should be involved at the time you write your will, as they are familiar with laws on a local and state level, are able to ensure that your will is accurate and does not miss any important information, and is able to distribute personal property, financial information, and any inheritance accordingly.
Contact us today at Monahan Law Firm, PLC to schedule a consultation!