Many American adults have no will or estate in place. When asked, a full 60% say they think that all adults should have a will but only 44% actually do. For people between the ages of 30 and 39, the number of people who have wills drops to 20%, despite the fact that this is the age group where people are starting families. When asked why they do not have a will, 18% said they did not think they needed one, 16% said they thought the process was too complicated, 14% thought it was too expensive and 12% assumed their spouse or children would get any assets they left behind. The good news really is that it is not as complicated as most people assume. Whether you go for legal advice or do it on your own, here are some tips for drafting that will:
- Get legal advice. Many people think that their best bet is to save money and do their wills themselves or with an online site. It is important to note that a complicated will can take more than two years to be worked out in court. Even simple wills can take six months. This is one area where getting professional legal advice from qualified estate lawyers can make a big difference for your family. By talking to wills and estate lawyers, you can do a lot to help them should something happen to you.
- Decide who will get what. If you should pass away, someone will receive your assets. Of course that includes your monetary assets but also your sentimental items. Most people do not have to work too hard to figure out who their beneficiaries are. Before you go to anyone for legal advice, spend some time thinking about your family and who you think should get what.
- Pick someone to oversee the execution of your will. Someone will have to oversee the distribution of your assets and belongings should you pass away. You will want someone whom you think is responsible and hopefully gets along with the other parties who are involved. If you cannot find a neutral party in your family, you may want to go to someone outside such as a lawyer or someone at the bank. You also need to decide if this person will be compensated for this task. It can be hard work, the execution of a will is often complicated and is not easy. Many people will leave between 2% and 4% of their estate to the person who oversees the execution of the will.
- Find someone to assign the guardianship of your children. While you do not legally have to ask or get the permission from someone to make them the guardian of your children, you really should. No one has to legally accept this responsibility so you should make sure the person or people you want to raise your children are on the same page. If you do not, the choice may be left up to the court. That is never a fun situation.
- Be more specific than you think you need to be. If you have specific items that you want to go to specific people, you should make a note of that in your will. You have your grandmother’s engagement ring and you want your son to get it, make a note of that. If you are going to give a family member nothing, it may seem mean but you should note that as well. If you do not, they may take your other family members to court on the grounds that they were left out. If you include an explanation, you will help things as well.
- Include a letter. There is usually more that people want to tell their family than who is going to get what. Many people write letters to be included with the will. This is not something you will need legal advice for but can often be helpful for your family. These may not be fun letters to write but they can go a long way in helping your family after you are gone.
Many people balk at writing a will for a number of reasons but it can make things a lot easier for your loved ones.