If you’re like many people, you may have put off creating a will because you don’t think it’s necessary or you’re not sure where to start. However, failing to create a will can leave your loved ones with uncertainty and confusion after you pass away. In this guide, we’ll explore why you need a will, what it should include, and how to get started.
Do I Really Need a Will?
Most see a will as a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after you die. But, it can also include instructions for guardianship of minor children, directions for your funeral and burial, and who will handle the responsibilities of probating your estate. A will must meet certain legal requirements to be considered valid, such as being in writing, signed by you and witnesses, and made while you are of sound mind.
Why You Need a Will
There are several reasons why you need a will, including:
Control Over Your Assets
Having a will allows you to control how your assets will be distributed after you die. Without a will, your assets may be distributed according to North Carolina Intestacy Laws, which may not align with your wishes. Further, the default laws may leave assets to separated spouses, not provide for children that are not adopted or legitimated, or cause individuals to inherit assets when they would not qualify for them and lose government benefits.
Protection for Your Family
A will can help protect your family by ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. It can provide for the care of minor children and appoint a guardian to oversee their upbringing. It can also provide a path for minor children to receive assets in increments instead of waiting until eighteen years of age.
Avoiding Probate Disputes
A properly drafted will can help avoid disputes among family members or other potential beneficiaries. Without a will, there may be disagreements over who should receive your assets which can lead to costly and time-consuming probate litigation. Further, anyone who may be entitled to inherit from your estate through intestacy may come climbing out of the woodwork requesting their piece of the pie.
Peace of Mind
Creating a will can give you peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order and that your wishes will be carried out after you die.
What Should Be Included in Your Will?
A will should include the following:
Distribution of Assets
Your will should outline how you want your assets to be distributed after you die. This can include real estate, personal property, and financial assets such as bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts.
Appointment of an Executor
Your will should name an executor who will manage your estate after you die. The executor will be responsible for carrying out your wishes, paying any debts or taxes owed by your estate, and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries.
Guardianship of Minor Children
If you have minor children, your will should nominate a guardian to oversee their upbringing in the event of your death.
Directions for Funeral and Burial
Your will can include instructions for your funeral and burial, such as your preferences for burial or cremation and any other specific wishes you may have.
How to Get Started
If you don’t have a will or need to update an existing one, consider working with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your will is legally valid and covers all necessary aspects of your estate plan. You can also use online will-making services, but it’s important to do your research and ensure that the service is reputable and reliable.
Creating a will is an important step in planning for the future. It can help ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, protect your family, and provide you with peace of mind. Don’t wait until it’s too late to create your last will and testament.
If you need help creating a will or other estate planning documents, consider working with an experienced attorney like Nathan Earwood. His law office can provide guidance and support as you navigate the process of creating your estate plan. To learn more or schedule a consultation, call 828-354-4300.