Getting your estate in order can be a scary process for many people. For one thing, it involves admitting that you’re old enough to need to put your affairs in order and for another, it often takes the time and patience that many people don’t feel they have. However, creating both a living will and a will is important, even for younger people. If you’re under 40 years old and don’t have a will put together yet, you should start thinking about that process now. And if you’re over 40 years of age and without a will, you should definitely be making concrete plans to put one together. With an attorney’s help, writing a will does not have to be the arduous task that many people think it will be and you’ll be able to leave your affairs in neat order for your heirs. Should something unexpected happen, it’s nice to know that things are taken care of on your end. Creating a will also gives power of attorney to a relative or close friend (should you not have a relative) who will execute your affairs in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated in body or mind.
Why Do I Need a Living Will or a Will at All?
A will directs the legal proceedings of who receives your assets, such as any money in bank accounts or trusts, your house, and other valuables. Without a will, the state divvies up your assets, without considering what your heirs might need or want. Additionally, without a will, assets can be disputed among your heirs or other claimants, which can be a legal nightmare and often cause bad feelings among family members. A will also useful if you have a trust, as it dictates what happens to the funds in the trust.
A living will, on the other hand, stipulates what will happen if you find yourself on life support and cannot communicate your end-of-life wishes. This type of will is only enacted if you’re in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery or an irreversible coma. Your family won’t have to make that excruciating decision for you: whether or not to take you off life support. And you have the comfort of knowing that your wishes have been carried out as well.
Who Doesn’t Have a Will and Why Is That Bad?
Estate planning is usually something that the average person puts off. No one wants to face their mortality. Over half of Americans who are between the ages of 55 and 64 don’t have a will of any kind yet and almost 65% of Americans of all ages don’t have a will. Those are pretty bad numbers, considering that with the help of lawyers, they really shouldn’t be too difficult to execute, as it’s a procedure that almost every person should have done within their lifetime.
If you happen to have assets that total over six figures, you should also talk to a lawyer about creating a trust in addition to a will, to reduce estate taxes and minimize the risk of probate.
Without a will, things can get messy quickly. You may wind up leaving your heirs with a huge legal and financial disaster on their hands, especially if the state is in charge of dividing up the estate. There’s no sentimentality involved with the state, so precious heirlooms or inheritances will fall by the wayside.
How Do I Go About Creating a Will or a Living Will?
You’re certainly going to want to consult with a professional, first off. Though there are ways to do a homemade will, this is one of those things that you want to do with professional legal guidance. They can help you through the process of examining your beneficiaries, totaling your assets, granting power of attorney, and filling out the necessary paperwork, and getting it into the right hands.
Don’t leave creating a will to the last minute. Give yourself and your family peace of mind by sitting down and getting it done. And don’t forget — wills can be amended as well, so what you prepare today isn’t set in stone.
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