Almost 60% of adults in the US do not have a will.
Why is this? Considering that a will is a very important document that will make the lives of your loved ones a whole lot easier when you pass – getting a will drafted should be a top priority.
It can’t just be procrastination that is holding so many of us back from drawing up a will. Because procrastination affects only an estimated 20% of adults – not 60%.
It turns out that one of the main stumbling blocks to people drawing up their wills is not knowing where to start or how to go about it.
Fortunately, drafting a will is a lot simpler than many people think it will be.
Which is why we want to share with you the top 7 questions to ask yourself when planning your will. Once you have figured out the answers to these, you will be mere steps away from completing your will drafting.
Are you eager to know how to start planning out your will? Read on!
1. Who Are My Beneficiaries?
Whether you have been slowly and steadily building wealth, and you need to make provision for who inherits it – or whether you have no assets at all – drafting a will is important.
Many people who do not have many assets on their name assume that there is no need for them to write up a will or testament. But even in this case, there is a need. For example, if you are the victim of accidental death, there may be damages that need to be paid to your family. If you do not have a will in place, this money could go to the wrong people.
So no matter what you do or don’t own, the first step in how to write your will is to identify your beneficiaries and determine what portion of your estate is due to each.
Besides family and loved ones, you can also choose to bequeath items to your friends – such as autographed albums – or choose to donate to your favorite charity.
2. Who Shall I Choose as an Executor?
The next thing you will need to decide is who is going to be your executor. An executor is a designated person who will carry out the duties of the estate. They handle the admin and tasks related to the stipulations of your will.
An executor can be anybody, as long as it is a person who you trust. It is common for either spouses or children to be made executor. You can also utilize the services of a lawyer or other professional who has experience dealing with estates.
Whoever you choose, make sure that it is the right person. Estate duties can be onerous and time-consuming. Their nature also requires a person that is organized and swift acting.
Also, be aware that you may need to select someone that is residing in your state.
According to the State Bar of Texas, The Texas Probate Code specifically excludes a non-resident of Texas from being able to qualify as an executor to the estate of an individual or family member who is a resident of the state of Texas. This applies to family and children as well.
3. Do I Need to Appoint a Guardian for My Children?
If your children are minors, it is also wise to make provision for their care in your will. The most common method is to appoint them a legal guardian. This can be a family member or a close friend.
4. What Estate Lawyer Should I Choose?
In most cases, you will need an estate lawyer for will writing. Choosing the best one is imperative to ensure that you are not overcharged and that your needs are met.
Here are some questions you can ask potential estate attorneys to gauge whether or not they are suitable:
- Are estates their main focus? The answer should be yes!
- How long they will take.
- Do they offer an ‘updating’ program? A yearly process whereby you make any necessary changes to bring your will up to date.
- Do they charge by fixed price or hourly rates? Fixed rates are the safest for your bank balance.
- Will they help you fund a living trust? Not all attorneys will do this, but if they do, it is a sign that they are capable and have your best interests at heart.
Once you have settled on a skilled lawyer that will not overcharge you, they will guide you through the process of how to write your will.
5. Should I Choose to Fund a Living Trust or Go Probate?
When planning your estate, you can choose between the regular probate process, or creating and funding a trust. There are pros and cons to both options, and the best one to take will depend on the scale of your assets and your personal situation.
This is one of the questions to ask a trust attorney, as they will be able to guide you.
6. If You Have Pets, What Arrangement Should You Make for Them in the Advent of Your Death?
We get it. It is weird to have to think about dying when you are busy with the regular things of life, like training your new rambunctious puppy. But, if you do have a puppy, or other pet (rambunctious or otherwise)- it is vitally important that you make provision for them in your will.
Doing so ensures that if something unforeseen were to happen to you, they will be well cared for by a selected family member or friend. If you are worried about their upkeep you can also bequeath a certain amount of money to the guardian of your pet to be used for food and vet bills.
7. What Do You Want to Be Done with Your Digital Legacy?
Of all the tips for writing a will, this is a relatively new one. If you are writing a will in 2019 – you may want to take into account your online presence and digital legacy.
If there is anything you need to be done, such as websites or profiles closed – or pages maintained or bequeathed, you should make provision for this in your will.
Now There Is Nothing Stopping You from Drawing up a Will
Depending on your situation, not having a will can be a recipe for issues. The good news is that drawing up a will is not difficult. Now that you know what questions to ask yourself with regard to your will, there is nothing stopping you from taking action.
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