A written will ensures that your assets and property will be distributed as you wish. When deciding if you need a will, it’s best to consider where you’re at in your life and how many assets you’ve accumulated.
If you’re married, it’s important to document whether all your assets will go to your spouse. Similarly, if you’re a parent, deciding who will take guardianship over your minor children. The same goes for property owners, pet owners, and anyone with assets that would need distributing after they’ve passed. If you haven’t yet built up assets or are just starting out financially, it’s likely you won’t need a will just yet.
Having an estate plan in place allows your family members time to grieve and lower the chances of disputes. It’s important that you document these decisions properly. Handwritten wills bring added risk to the validity and reliability of the document and can even be questioned in court.
An online will-writing program may seem like a good middle ground between hiring out and writing your own, but it’s always recommended to consult with an attorney or estate planner. While do-it-yourself sites are more convenient and less spendy, they carry little assurance on the legal validity or accountability of your document.
Before writing your will, your lawyer or attorney will need a list of all your assets and the person or organization that will inherit each, along with any real estate property or guardianship. You’ll also have the option to name an executor in your will or an individual or organization that will ensure the proper distribution of your assets and property.
Creating a will costs time and money, but dying without a will in place risks leaving the distribution of your assets up to your local courts or state laws to decide on your behalf. This may not only go against your wishes but potentially generate legal expenses and conflict within your family. Having one in place will remove added stress for your loved ones and allow them the time they need to grieve and heal.