Almost everyone should have a legally binding and updated will. It's important that your possessions and hard earned assets are divided up according to your wishes after you die. Wills are easier and cheaper to complete than you may think. Take this quiz and learn about how to create a legally binding will.
Wills are very important and anyone of legal age should have one. Even young adults have possessions and assets.
In most states, you actually do not need a lawyer when drafting and signing a will. A testator, which is the person who's will it is, and one witness are the only people that need to sign a will to make it binding.
You can also include your burial instructions in your will. It is advised, however, to keep burial instructions in a separate document so that your family can easily access it when you die.
You must be of sound mind when signing your will, otherwise a probate court may rule that it is not binding. Sound mind includes being free of mental illness and aware of your assets and possessions.
The executor, also known as the personal representative, is the most important person named in a will. This person is responsible for gathering all of your personal property, paying off your debts from your estate and distributing your assets according to your wishes.
Although your executor can really be anyone, it's best to put some thought into this. Consider choosing someone who is intelligent, thoughtful, trustworthy and has business experience.
If you are faced with imminent death, you may quickly draft a deathbed will. Unfortunately, these wills are most commonly challenged in probate court. The mental state of the person drafting the will is frequently called into question.
At least two witnesses must be present when signing a deathbed will. Since deathbed wills are typically written quickly, they are usually riddled with errors.
Oral wills are communicated to a witness instead of written down. Oral wills are generally used when someone believes there isn't enough time to write a written will, such as in the case of soldiers in combat.
Holographic wills are informal and typically handwritten. Keep in mind, holographic wills may not be legally binding.
There are many resources available for creating a do-it-yourself will, including Web sites and books. It's still important, however, to review your state law regarding wills or have the do-it-yourself will reviewed by a lawyer.
Self-probating wills drafted by a lawyer are the least likely to be challenged. They also save on time, allowing your executor to distribute your assets and possessions soon after you die.
It's not uncommon for people to change their will over time. You can either create an entirely new will, or you can attach a codicil, which is a legally binding amendment to your existing will.
Only persons of legal standing can contest a will in probate court. Persons of legal standing include anyone that was mentioned, or anyone that should have been mentioned, in the will.
Wills cannot be contested on the grounds of fairness or due to omission of assets or possessions from the will. A beneficiary may contest a will if the beneficiary does not approve of the executor that was chosen.
In all American states, you cannot disinherit your spouse from your will, unless there was a legally binding prenuptial agreement.
You are advised to create a new will or a legally binding amendment if you divorce your spouse. In some states, an entire will becomes immediately invalid when a divorce occurs.
The beneficiaries are required to pay all taxes related to money they inherit. Estate taxes can be pretty steep and most wealthy people use various loopholes to prevent their beneficiaries from paying hefty estate taxes.
The term living will is a misnomer, as it has nothing to do with assets or possessions. A living will is a document that details your health care wishes in the event that you fall critically ill.
There are several online forms that you can use to create a living will. They are rather inexpensive to complete. It's very important to complete a living will, especially if you have specific health care wishes.