Things to Consider When Preparing a Will
Just because the trend is to live longer does not mean that one should put off preparing a will. All the experts will tell you that estate planning begins with a will, the most basic part, which also includes a financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and trustee. The will also appoints an executor, a person who takes control and manages the estate, winding up all the affairs of the deceased including debt resolution and taxes.
Wills in Texas are often avoided as many people are afraid to face the reality of their own mortality, or they say they are too busy worrying about today and don’t have the time or energy to deal with the “what ifs”.
Upon a person’s death, intestacy laws are triggered if a will does not exist. These laws decode how a person’s estate is managed and distributed as well as the allocation of their assets. As defined, these laws are like a will except the state is making it for you, and your wishes are often not met. It’s common for people to assume that all their assets go to their spouse upon their death, but without a will stating this, intestacy law will normally divide the estate between the children and spouse. To avoid any misunderstanding or clash of views on how the individual wanted his assets to be distributed, a will is mandatory.
Statistically over 50% of people in the United States do not have a will. If you have children you absolutely need a will, however, they are intricate and have to follow certain standards, as outlined below.
* Do not make it yourself: The internet has many web sites where a template of sorts is available; however, most of them are not state specific. Different states have different laws, and very few laypeople have intimate knowledge of estate tax planning. Many people who prepare their own wills in Texas? will have family members or the named will executor as witnesses, not realizing that this will be considered a conflict of interest if they are named in the will.
* Identify your assets before you meet with a lawyer: These are items such as bank accounts, investments, IRAs, etc. Modern life has created a class of assets which are often passed by; internet accounts that earn money, online banking and domain names being just three examples. Even leftover embryos from fertility treatment are assets and have to be dealt with.
* Select guardians and trustees: This is very important especially if you have children; naming those who will rear them upon your death is critical to their future. It is advisable to have different people to act as the trustee and the children’s guardian.
Revisit your will every five years, and consider if it is still up to date and current. Do this with your lawyer as laws change often.