Commonly Asked Questions Surrounding Wills

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A will is an essential legal document to plan for the future. Many people disregard drafting one because they don’t have a lot of wealth, but the amount of wealth doesn’t matter. A will explains how you wish to have your property distributed after death, which can ensure your spouse or family receives all the possessions.

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding wills.

What Are the Requirements to Make a Will?

A will is a simple, common document that nearly anyone can make. Specific rules vary by state, but generally to make one, you must be 18 years old and the document must be in writing, signed with a witness present.

What is the Difference Between a Last Will and a Living Trust?

A last will is a legal document that dictates how property will be distributed after one’s death. It can be written by anyone, no matter their net worth. Last wills are popular due to their simplicity and flexibility in determining exactly how you want the assets to be distributed.

A living trust is a document created during a person’s life that identifies a person, or trustee, to be responsible for managing assets for a beneficiary. Although not required, it is recommended to use an attorney to prepare their estate planning documents.

Both have their benefits and are often used together. Having a living trust in place serves its purpose, and having a last will can express final wishes that cannot be placed into a living trust.

What Happens if a Person Dies Without a Last Will?

When a person dies without a last will in place, their property is passed through the court to be distributed, which could contradict what the deceased person may have wanted. Each state varies, but the money is often given to a family member, depending on marital or survival status. It is recommended to have a last will to ensure the deceased person’s money is going where they wish. A probate lawyer in your state can draft up the document and will be able to answer any questions regarding laws.

What Happens if You Change your Mind?

If you’ve created a will but have decided there are some things you want to change, it can be done. There are two options: start over and make a new one or make changes via a codicil. A codicil is a document that legally alters a will, and it needs to follow the same law formalities as previously. A probate lawyer can help you make the right decision on which route to take.

How Soon Should a Will be Executed After a Death?

Anyone who has the will can file it with a probate court after the death of the testator. It is recommended to do so immediately because the process can take months, and it ensures probate begins before any state deadlines come up.

Although the rules and process of creating a will are similar among each state, it’s best to contact an attorney to make sure you’re complying with all the rules in your specific state. Contact Dan Burke, a probate and real estate attorney, for any questions about creating a will.


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