In basic terms, a legally drawn will is a document that identifies your wishes about the distribution of your property and assets upon your death. A will can determine the care of your minor children, and allow you to predetermine who has access to your money, stocks, and property. It can also keep your estate out of the hands of the court for a judge to make random and final decisions about which relative gets which part of your estate.
Wills are not meant for only the wealthy. Almost everyone that owns a home or bank account and anyone with minor children should have a legal will drawn up before they die. Your will should contain information about the distribution of the following items:
- List of heirs
- Distribution of assets and property
- Limitation of relative inheritance
- Charitable donations
By defining your wishes about your possessions, your preferences must be followed by the legal nature of the will’s status.
Just as there are many types of people with different amounts of property and assets, there are different types of wills. Here are a few.
- The testamentary will is a simple will that is witnessed by two people. It can be handwritten, but it is more secure if prepared by an estate planning lawyer.
- Oral wills are spoken in front of two or more witnesses. They are verbal, although some are written down as the dying man or woman recites their wishes before the witnesses.
- A mutual will is executed by and prepared for a married or co-mingling couple to ensure that when one of the parties dies, the other is bound to the wishes of the deceased party. This is often used to ensure money goes to children the deceased person had before the new marriage.
- Holographic wills are handwritten documents that are signed by the writer, but there are no witnesses to the wishes of the deceased. Many states refuse to recognize these wills – except in cases of extreme emergencies such as being trapped in a cave-in.
- When the deceased creates a trust before passing away, a pour-over will often accompanies the trust. This allows assets to flow into the trust without moving into probate.
You can contact an estate planning attorney, like an estate planning lawyer from Klenk Law, about creating a will today. Compile your debts, list your assets, and note any inheritance options you want to be followed. Your lawyer will make sure the document is legally binding. If you forget something, your attorney can make amendments to the will.