According to an AARP survey , two out of every five Americans over the age of 45 haven’t written a will. While many Americans may avoid this process because it entails actively planning for their demise, creating a will is one of the most important ways to plan for loved ones. Working with a probate and will attorney in the Woodlands allows someone to put his or her wishes on paper and help his or her heirs avoid unnecessary legal hassles.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document in which someone declares how and who will manage his or her estate after death. This estate can consist of big, expensive items like a vacation home as well as smaller items that hold sentimental value, like family photos. The person appointed to manage the estate is called the executor, as he or she is tasked with executing the testator’s wishes. However, there are certain types of property, like retirement accounts, that aren’t covered by wills. In such cases, the testator should discuss how to transfer ownership in this property with a will attorney. Creating a will also overlaps with other family law areas, as the testator can declare who will become guardian to his or her dependents in the will.
Is an attorney necessary?
Contacting a law firm is not required to create a will. However, an experienced will lawyer provides useful advice on estate-planning strategies, such as how to create a living trust within a will. Whether someone decides to create his or her own will, or seeks the advice of a lawyer, he or she needs to consider all essential estate-planning documents. Indeed, this is a great time to research financial and health care powers of attorney.
Should you create a joint will?
Will lawyers and estate planners tend to advise against joint wills. In fact, some states don’t even recognize them as legally valid. The problem in joint wills is that it is rare for both spouses to die at the same time. Additionally, many couples have property that is not jointly owned. Even though a couple’s separate wills may look similar, it’s recommended to just create separate legal documents.