When you decide it is time to write a will, you may discover it is an emotional and complicated process. There are several different ways to go about writing a will, and it is important you understand what you are getting into to ensure you make the smartest decision for all parties involved. It is also important you keep in mind that, while writing a will is something most people do not enjoy, not writing a will may cause your family more problems than you know. This is why you must stay informed and learn about the best ways to go about writing your will.
What are some of the things I should consider when writing my will?
First, when you are deciding who will draw up your will, it is important you carefully consider your options. While there are kits you can buy that allow you to write your will on your own, you are taking a risk by doing so. There are several potential legal pitfalls, and may people find the process confusing, so it is easy to make an error, which may cause unwanted discrepancies.
You should also choose your executors well, and even appoint a default, or substitute executor that you can trust. Your executor will be handling your estate matters in accordance with the wishes you included in your will, which is why your executor should be somebody you trust. Generally, people appoint their spouses or children as their executors. You should consider appointing a substitute executor, because if the first executor you appointed is unwilling or unable to act at the time of your death, you will want to have someone ready to replace him or her immediately.
What are guardians and trustees?
Essentially, if you are the last living parent and have a child under the age of 18, you should appoint a guardian in your lifetime. If you did not appoint a guardian before the event of your death, then the court will appoint one on their own. Therefore, you must ensure the guardian you pick is someone you would trust to take over the duties of raising your child. Additionally, if you pass away and have a child under the age of 18, then you must establish trustees to manage your finances until your child is of age to do so himself. A trustee is responsible for managing investments, money and property, so it is important you appoint a competent and trustworthy trustee.
What is a legacy?
If you have specific family heirloom items, such as watches or jewelry that you wish to pass on to specific beneficiaries, then you must leave them as a specific legacy to said beneficiaries. A “residual legacy” is anything left over in your estate after all specific legacies are accounted for. Therefore, you must indicate who will receive your residual legacy as well. It may also work to your benefit if you include a discretionary trust in your will, which may help your family save on inheritance taxes. Lastly, you must of course sign your will in front of two independent witnesses–otherwise it is not valid–and then store your will someplace safe, where there is no fire risk or otherwise, to ensure the safety of your will.
Contact our firm
Juan C. Velasco, Esq. is a trusted attorney who concentrates on bankruptcy, family law, real estate, and estate matters who has been serving the New Jersey area for over 20 years. If you are in need of experienced legal counsel, please contact Velasco Law Office and we will be happy to assist you.