Writing a will isn’t the most exciting or pleasant thing you’ll ever do, but it’s the best way you can secure your estate for after your passing. Still, there are a significant number of people who actively avoid writing their will—about 40 percent of Americans over the age of 45 don’t have a will, according to AARP research, and that number grows significantly higher as ages get younger.
If you have decided to take the first steps in planning your estate, here is some information from a monument maker in Phillipsburg, NJ that you should consider that will help you prepare the document and properly achieve your goals:
- Passing away without a will: Some people may wonder what happens if they die without having a will in place. Under such circumstances, your assets would be distributed in accordance with intestate succession guidelines. This means the laws of the state will determine who gets what pieces of your property, rather than you yourself as the owner of that property. In addition, because you did not name an executor to administer your estate, the court will choose one to serve in that role for you. The court will also determine who takes guardianship of your minor children, if the other parent does not survive you.
- You need an attorney: While it’s true that there are some ways you can get your estate plan done yourself, including using various online resources and programs, you’ll be much better off working with an attorney. A skilled estate planning attorney will know exactly what types of documents you need to follow and will be able to make a mistake-free document that will hold up in court and cover all of your wishes as efficiently as possible.
- You need witnesses: Anyone can be a witness to your will, but ideally it would be someone who is not a beneficiary; otherwise, there may be a potential for conflict of interest. There are some states that require two or more witnesses. You should not have an attorney who drafts your will serve as a witness for you.
- Separate or joint: Estate planners will almost always advise that you draft separate wills rather than joint wills. In fact, there are some states that won’t even acknowledge or recognize joint wills. This is because you and your spouse almost certainly won’t die at the same time, and you probably have some property you do not hold jointly. Separate wills allow you to also address issues such as children or property from previous marriages, or ex-spouses.
- Executor: You’ll need to pick someone to act as your executor. This will typically either be your spouse, your adult child or another trusted friend or relative. However, if you expect your estate to be rather complex, it might make sense to have an attorney or someone who has financial experience be your executor.
For more information about the issues you should consider as you plan your estate, contact a monument maker in Phillipsburg, NJ today.
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