Most seniors neglect writing their will or hiring an estate planner because it’s one of the more unpleasant facts of life. Not only do you have to acknowledge your mortality, but you also have to plan for it.
That doesn’t sit well with everyone. What are some of the most important facts that you should know when drafting up this document? Let’s look at them and how you can do this better so that you leave no room for mistakes.
What Happens if You Die without a Will?
Did you see how the celebrity Prince had died without this legally binding document? It led to an incredible battle among his family members. He had a $200 million estate, and none of his heirs have been able to touch it in two years because of the legal red tape. This adds to the level of complications. Without a legal document of who gets what, the division of property enters what’s known as intestate. This means that the divisions of the property get settled based on the laws of the state. Since the legal document didn’t appoint an executor, the judge appoints someone who serves under this capacity.
Getting an Attorney: Worth It?
Seniors have no legal obligation to hire an attorney for estate planning. However, it’s one of the useful facts that a lawyer can help an individual get wise counsel to help them. Whether a lawyer drafted up the legal document or you drafted it up, as long as it follows state laws, it is considered binding. Another advantage of a lawyer for seniors comes from how you get access to better estate planning tools that keeps everything prepared.
With a Spouse: Joint or Separate Wills?
Most estate planners have universally advised against doing a joint document like this because some states won’t even recognize them. The odds are high that you and your spouse won’t die at the same time. In addition, it’s another one of the facts that you most likely don’t hold everything as the same. That’s why, in most cases, having separate documents for estate planning proves more beneficial. In addition, you often find that you and your spouse write similar documents to each other.
Who Witnesses the Creation of the Document?
While anyone can act as the witness to the will, seniors should choose someone who won’t directly benefit from it. Otherwise, it’s one of the facts that you have a conflict of interest. In some states, they require that seniors have two witnesses to see the document get signed. In addition, let’s say that you had a lawyer who drafted up the document for you. You shouldn’t have him act as the witness.
Some states may also require that it gets witnessed in the presence of a public notary. Meanwhile, other states don’t have this. It depends on the state that you live in. In addition, most attorneys in estate planning recommend that you have the witnesses sign the affidavit because this speeds up the process when someone becomes deceased.
When the Need for an Attorney Becomes Greater
You can sign off a family member as the executor of the will, but the more complicated the estate, the greater the reasons for having an attorney. Let’s say that someone has a multi-million dollar mansion with a pool and many different business assets. Having these divided up in a less formal setting for writing a will can get messy with a lot of fighting and arguing over what was truly meant. When you hire an estate planner to be the executor and have him draft up the legally binding document, it ensures the family has little reason to fight amongst each other. The wording in the document should also be carefully guarded to protect everyone’s interests.
Keeping Everything Civil
These are some of the most important facts when it comes to seniors and drafting up a will. You have to consider how complicated the affair could become, and in doing that, you can decide if it makes more sense for you to hire an estate planner. It clarifies more and keeps the fighting in the family to a bare minimum—no one can dispute what was said in the legally binding document. You could also choose to have one trusted person distribute everything to the people it concerns. However, this comes with an incredible level of risk, and we don’t recommend that you take this route because of the chances that it could be abused.
Listing An Estate
What many people decide to do with their will is to list they’re estate in it. This is important because if you do not list your estate in your will, the bank will take your property. It is up to you who you would like to leave behind your estate to, but it is important that you discuss the facts with your attorney.
Another reason why people list they’re estate is because they may not have the best life insurance policy. When you include your estate in your will, this ensures that your beneficiaries receive the best treatment after you’re gone.
Chose an Executor
This is a very important part of a personal will. The person you chose as your executor will make sure that you’re will is carried out that way that you want it to. This person ensures all of the assets are separated how you want and to who you want. This is the person that carries out the will after you’re gone. The most important part of any will is the executor, so make sure it is someone you trust to carry out your wishes.