August is National “Make a Will” month. This is an annual reminder to create or update your will and it’s a great way to bring awareness. Wills are important documents, for estate-planning, to allow your assets to transfer smoothly to your heirs. Without a will or named beneficiaries your heirs, instead of gliding through probate, may find themselves in a probate nightmare.
What is a will? Why do I need one? And how do I make one? Let’s dive in.
What Is a Will?
Commonly referred to as the Last Will and Testament, a will is a legal document outlining the distribution of your assets after your death. This is an important aspect to a comprehensive estate plan as it can define beneficiaries of specific assets. Assigning beneficiaries can help your loved ones follow your wishes and can keep them from fighting over assets.
Wills vs Trusts
You have likely come across references to both wills and trusts while researching estate-planning documents. Both documents can reflect your intentions for your assets when you’re gone, but there are some key differences. An asset needs to be titled in the name of the trust while a will only outlines your intentions for those assets. Trusts can avoid probate while a will requires it. Trusts can stay private, but a will is public record.
Do You Need a Will?
Even though our to-do lists seem to be never-ending, creating or updating a will should be at the top. It doesn’t matter if you have minimal assets, having a will in place will assist your family during such a stressful time. Here are a few other benefits of having a will(1) :
- Distributing your property and protecting loved ones after your passing.
- Providing peace of mind to both you as well as your family.
- Planning designations for those in your care (e.g., naming a legal guardian for your children or pets).
- Preventing most family conflict.
- Eliminating confusion over the distribution of assets.
- Ensuring that your assets go to the people you designate.
- Building a long-lasting legacy.
- Benefiting charities of your choosing.
These are only a few of the benefits to having a will. For a more in-depth look at wills a great resource is https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/what-is-a-will.
How to Create a Will
Creating a will can be as simple or all-encompassing as you’d like. You may find that you can make it on your own or you can incorporate attorneys and your financial advisor. Each state has different requirements for creating a will so make sure you are getting the correct information based on where you live. (2)
The first step, generally, in creating a will is determining what needs to be included. Make a list of all your assets and note detailed instructions on how to pass them along and to whom. Remember, assets that already have an assigned beneficiary supersede any will so be sure you have them up to date.
The final step to make your will into a legal document are signatures. Requirements vary from state to state but can contain a combination of your signature along with two witnesses, or possibly having it notarized.
Creating a will is a good idea whether you have $10 or $10 million. Give you and your family the peace of mind they deserve and embrace Augusts National “Make a Will” Month!
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.