“A will is an important way to maintain control over who gets what from your property,” says AARP attorney Sally Hurme, “and by planning ahead, you can also save your family time and money.” If you die without a will, the state oversees the distribution of your assets, which it usually distributes according to a set formula. Whether you`re married or not, chances are you`ve thought about how to plan your estate. While there are several estate planning tools available to you, there is one – mirror wills – that could work if you are broadly agreed on how to manage your estate. Read on to learn more about mirror wills, including what they are, how they work, and who they protect, to see if this simple estate planning tool is right for you. In addition to managing your property, a will sets out your preferences for who should take care of your minor children`s guardian in the event of death. Even if you have a so-called revocable life trust, in which you can invest the majority of your assets, you still need a so-called transfer will. In addition to allowing you to appoint a guardian for your children, a transfer ensures that all the assets you wanted to invest in the trust are invested in it. even if you can`t rename some of them before you die. A will only takes effect after your death, but after that, it becomes part of the public record when it goes through probate, the court-supervised process to close a deceased person`s estate. A good rule of thumb: review your will every two or three years. You may also want to see it again at crucial times in your life, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary or executor, a major purchase or inheritance, etc. Your children probably don`t need guardians named in a will after they reach the age of majority, for example, but you may still need to appoint guardians for disabled relatives.
Knowing how to make a will is half the battle, right? Now, all you have to do is follow up. So, let`s go! What is a will? A will is simply a legal document in which you, the testator, explain who will administer your estate after your death. Your estate can consist of big, expensive things like a vacation home, but also small items that might have sentimental value, such as photos. The person named in the will to administer your estate is called the executor because they carry out your stated wishes. In some states, a will also needs to be notarized, so check the rules of where you live. Even if this formality is not required, you may want to consider asking your witnesses to complete a so-called affidavit. Signed in the presence of a notary, the document can facilitate the probate process by reducing the likelihood that witnesses will be summoned to court to validate their signature and the authenticity of the will. The least recognized are oral wills in which the testator expresses his will in front of witnesses. In the absence of a written record, or at least a record drawn up by the testator, oral wills are generally not accepted by the courts.
The effectiveness of wills can vary depending on the type, although no single document is likely to solve all the problems that arise after your death. Here`s what you need to know about these important documents. While a will is probably the best choice, there are several other types of wills that receive varying degrees of recognition. We recommend hiring such a company only if its work is well verified by professional lawyers to ensure that the documents pass the legal review. Be sure to read customer reviews before you commit. Depending on the company and the services requested, fees can range from a package to a monthly subscription to the completely free use of online templates. Additional benefits – such as external legal support, sending documents, or the easy way to make future changes – can vary greatly from company to company. Some may also ask you to download additional software to draft your will.
A will is also useful if you have a trust – a legal mechanism that allows you to set conditions for the distribution of your assets after your death and often minimize gift and inheritance tax. That`s because most trusts only deal with specific assets, such as life insurance or land, rather than the sum of your holdings. The good news is that writing a will doesn`t have to be complicated or even time-consuming. Although in the past, most people consulted a lawyer to draft a will, nowadays it has never been easier to create wills online. The prices of the kits are comparable or cheaper than using a paid online service, but these kits usually only offer generic wills (such as simple wills), so if you know your estate planning is complex or you have a lot of assets, consider a paid service to provide direct support. This information was prepared as a public service of the State of Georgia to provide general information, and not to give advice on a specific legal issue. This is not legal advice and cannot be construed as such. If you have any questions about any topic on this page, please contact the relevant agency. However, holographic wills are not recognized in some states.
In states that accept documents, the will must meet minimum requirements, such as proof that the testator actually drafted it and had the mental capacity to do so. Even in this case, the absence of witnesses often leads to challenges to the validity of the will. To maximize the likelihood that your wishes will be fulfilled, create a testamentary will. This is the most well-known type of will; They prepare the document and then sign it in the presence of witnesses. This is arguably the best insurance against successful challenges to your desires by family members or business partners after your death. You can write one yourself, but for more important insurance, have it prepared by a trust and probate lawyer. Handwritten wills are called holograph wills. Holograph wills are not accepted in all states and can easily be declared invalid by the court. For this reason, we do not recommend handwriting the final version of your own will.
Keep in mind that your will can be changed and updated at any time, so you should plan to review it at least once a year to make sure it still meets your wishes. Whenever your family situation changes, such as a divorce or the birth of a grandchild, it`s a good time to review your will. Although a will only takes effect after the death of the testator or the person who makes the will, it is essential to ensure that the will is valid well before that person dies. State law varies slightly in terms of testamentary requirements, but in most cases, the basic requirements for a will to be valid are fairly consistent across jurisdictions. Yes. It is possible to draw up your will free of charge. You can write your will from scratch or find a free and reputable online service to help you. Some DIY kits and templates may also be available for free and online for free download. Where do I keep my will? An probate court usually needs your original will before they can process your estate, so it`s important to keep the document secure while still accessible. If you put the will in a safe that only you can enter, your family may need to apply for a court order to access it. A waterproof and fireproof safe in your home is a good alternative. Your lawyer or someone you trust should keep signed copies in case the original is destroyed.
Signed copies may be used to determine your intentions.