What is a will?
A will (“last will and testament”) is a document that states your final wishes. It is read by a county court after your death, and the court ensures that your final wishes are carried out.
Do I need a will?
If you have children under the age of 18, assets, or care where your money or property goes after you die, then yes, you need a will. You wouldn’t drop off your children to just anyone, right? So why wouldn’t you want to make provisions for them if anything happened to you and/or your spouse. Life happens, and it’s a reality that something could happen to you and your spouse, leaving your children behind. There are about two-thirds of Americans that don’t have a will. Don’t be a statistic, get a will today!! If you don’t have one, the courts get involved, and they decide with whom your children will be placed. By having a will you reduce the stress and tension of an already difficult situation.
What does a will cover?
- leaves instructions about what should happen to your estate after you die
- Names an Executor (person named to carry out the instructions of the will)
- Names guardians for children and their property (if assets left to them)
- Provides for pets (you should never leave property to a pet – yes, it has happened!!)
- Instructions for businesses owned
Do I need a lawyer, or can I do it online or myself?
There are a lot of options online these days, but I strongly suggest you use an attorney. You never really know who you are giving pertinant information to on the internet. An attorney can help you with the process, and answer any questions you have along the way. They can also ensure your paperwork and forms are filled out correctly. Make sure you find one in your state that is familiar with estate laws.
What are the requirements?
- You need to sign your will
- You need to have 2 witnesses sign as well (this is what most states require – check with your state to be sure)
- Have your will notarized (strongly suggested)
Do I still need a will if I don’t have any assets or property?
If you have minor children, you will want to have a will regardless of your financial situation.
How much does a will cost?
A simple will costs around $250-$300. A more complex will, one with significant assets or if you own a business, will cost more. It is well worth the investment to ensure whom will raise your children.
How do I get started?
- Find an estate attorney
- Make a list of all your assets that you want to specifically leave to certain beneficiaries (you also have the option to not list every asset you have, and just leave your entire estate to certain beneficiaries to divide.
- Make sure you give the Executor of your will a copy of the will (or let them know where to locate it upon death, and let them know they are Executor.
Having a will can save your family time, money, and give you peace of mind. Have more questions about wills? Feel free to ask below, and we’ll help you along the way!