A will is a legal document that explains what you’d like done with your belongings after you die.
Although thinking about your will can be upsetting and stressful, it’s important to have one if you want to control what happens to your money and property after your death. If you don’t have a will, your property will be distributed according to the probate laws of your state. Probate is the legal process of distributing the property owned by someone who has died to heirs after the death.
You can write your own will, but it’s more likely that it will hold up to any legal challenges if the will is prepared by an attorney. A will does have to be signed by adult witnesses who don’t gain by your death and are not named as a beneficiary, executor, or trustee in your will. You have to sign and date your will in the presence of the witnesses.
Many attorneys recommend including information on your Internet accounts in your will. If you receive any account statements through email, your family and loved ones may not know about them unless they can access your email account. For each email account, list the service provider, log-in name, and password.
After you’ve written your will, keep a copy for yourself and give a copy to your attorney to keep. Make sure to review your will about every 2 years or so to make sure it still reflects your situation and intentions. If you want to change your will, have your attorney make the changes so they are done in accordance with your state’s laws. You can also write a completely new will if you’d like.
A will is just one way people can distribute their assets after they die. Establishing a trust is another option. A trust is an agreement under which money or other assets are held and managed by one person for the benefit of another. Some of the benefits of a trust include the ability to create financial safeguards for family members and postponing taxes. Still, there are several types of trusts and creating them can be fairly complex. Trusts must follow your state’s laws and may affect your tax situation. If you think you might like to create a trust, talk to an attorney about the pros and cons. It’s also a good idea to have an attorney help you draw up your trust to make sure it does what you’d like it to do.