Wills — State your will
Basically, a will:
- Names an executor. The executor’s job is to follow the instructions stated in the will.
- Details who gets what
- Designates your wishes for who will take care of your minor children
If you die without a will, a court will make these decisions for you. There is a very good chance the outcome might not be what you would have wanted. The court usually needs to process the original document, so keep your will in a safe place and make sure someone you trust knows where it is.
A will is a legal document that spells out instructions to be followed by your will’s executor.
Hire a pro or do it yourself?
You’re not required to hire a lawyer to draw up your will; there are many do-it-yourself options. But there are different types of wills and various rules that must be followed to make your will valid. These rules vary from state to state, so if you’re not sure about the laws in your state, consider consulting with an estate attorney.
Note the limitations
A will is often thought of as the cornerstone of an estate plan, but it has limitations. You can’t use a will to designate ownership of certain types of property or assets. Property held jointly will automatically pass to the joint owner. An asset that has named beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts will pass to the beneficiary. It’s important to keep beneficiary designations up to date to maintain control over who gets those assets.
Prepare for the future
A will helps ensure your wishes will be followed and your assets will be distributed to the right people in the right proportions. It gives you some control over your life, after your life.