understanding the best time to write a will
Published: September 2, 2021
Category: Educational, Final Expense, Retirement Planning
Most people do not consider writing a will or testament unless they are directly concerned about the loss of their lives or have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. However, there are many reasons why you should write a testamentary will well before you are advanced in years or diagnosed with a serious illness. Consider the guide below for information on the process of writing a will.
Signs That You Should Write Your Will
Listed below are the most significant reasons to write a will, regardless of your age or health. Remember that, while no one plans to pass away, not planning a will can make it complicated for your spouse, children, and family to manage what has been left behind.
- You Have Children and/or Grandchildren. You should include instructions regarding what money, items, or other accounts from your estate will go toward benefitting your children or grandchildren. If you are the legal guardian of any child under the age of 18, you should leave behind legal instructions for who gets guardianship over him or her in the event of your death.
- You Have a Spouse. If you have a spouse, you should write a will. This ensures that your spouse will be guaranteed to receive their due from your estate. This is especially important if you have a spouse and children, as your spouse will be financially responsible for your children on their own in the event of your death.
- You Have a Trust or Inheritance. If you have any type of inheritance, even if it is still in a trust, you will need to write a will. This ensures that your inheritance goes to a particular person or group of your choice in the event of your death. This can be written as a testamentary trust.
- You Want to Leave Specific Items to Specific People. If you have anything that you want to leave to a certain person or group, such as a charity or foundation, then you should write a will to ensure everything will be in legal order after your death. It is common for familial conflicts to occur over who gets what assets in the event of a death. If you want to give an individual or group something specific, a will is the best way to accomplish that goal.
What happens if you do not write a will before your death?
If you do not write a will before your death, your estate will be handled according to state laws. This will vary from state to state, but the state law may not line up with your intentions for the money, objects, and estate that you leave behind. This is why it is important to write a will if you have any specific intentions for your estate, or if any number of your family members will be relying on your estate in the event of your death.
If you are not sure when you should write a will, keep the above guidelines in mind.
How to Begin the Process
Before we begin listing the steps of the process, there is one vital thing you need to do first before you do anything else. This key step is finding an attorney or program that will guide you through the steps necessary to write your will. Different steps will need to be taken depending on your financial and familial situation to tailor your will to your needs.
Without an attorney present, you can mistakenly create a will without understanding some of your state’s guidelines, which could heavily complicate the process when you pass away. Or, if you don’t utilize the correct legal terms and language, it could be deemed invalid.
Although it may be nerve-wracking to have an attorney present, you will be helping yourself and your beneficiaries by drafting one.
- Choose a Beneficiary: Your beneficiary could be anyone from a spouse to a family member, friend, institution or organization. You can also have multiple beneficiaries if you wish to distribute your assets between certain individuals. This shows that you truly have free reign as to who you would like your beneficiary to be and how you can distribute your funds. If you have children, it may be smart to delegate them to be beneficiaries, especially if they have children of their own. For example, if you state that you would like your grandchildren to use your life insurance benefit toward their education should you pass away before they turn 18, your children could be excellent beneficiaries. This is because they will be able to handle and distribute the funds properly.
- Choose an Executor: An executor is the person in charge of distributing your assets according to the guidelines listed in your will. This person should be extremely trustworthy, as they will have a certain amount of power over your assets until they are distributed fully. Ensure your executor is available and willing to serve this role to its fullest capacity. This means it’s ideal to have someone within a close proximity to you, and someone who has experience with taking inventory of estates as well as handling funds and assets. You do not have to select a friend or family member to be an executor. However, if you select a third-party executor, you will have to be prepared to pay fees. The fees will be set by your estate and can vary in prices.
- Allocate your Estate, Be Specific: Once you begin to make decisions about which family member will receive which items or funds after your death, it is recommended to be as specific as possible to avoid later conflict. It is important to predict how each family member might respond to the situation you describe in your will. For example, if you have four children, and you state that all of your assets should be distributed equally between them, but one child insists on keeping one valuable item to themselves, conflict may arise. Although it may be difficult to decide which family members receive which items, it is likely that your family will benefit from those choices in the future.
- Attach an Explanatory Letter: This is a step that is fairly self-explanatory, so we won’t spend too much of your time going over it. What you need to know is that an explanatory letter can serve as a way to comfort your family members and explain the conditions listed in your will. If you want to give a special item to a certain family member, there is no doubt that having a written explanation of your gift to them will be valuable. You want your family to be on the same page as you, which is another reason why you’ll want to include an explanatory letter.
- Sign Your Will: In many cases, states will require one or more witnesses during the signing of your will. Without witnesses or a notary of some sort, it’s possible that your will is going to be deemed invalid by the state government. Check with a lawyer or professional who specializes in assembling wills and testaments to find your state’s requirements.
It is important to plan for the future. Writing a will can be an emotionally draining and difficult process, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family will not have to distribute your estate is worth the effort. The Best Senior Services (TBSS) recommends enlisting professional help for the creation of a will, especially if you have many assets to balance and distribute.
If you need more help in understanding when the best time to write a will is, you’ve found the right place at TBSS. We educate and inform seniors about topics surrounding retirement so that they can spend less time worrying about their retirement years and more time enjoying it. Additionally, we connect seniors with local licensed agents who will help answer any outstanding questions.
Visit our website or call us at 877-979-8255 to get started today