Online Last Will and Testament
Although the end of your life is something none of us would like to dwell on, deciding what will happen to your assets and personal possessions after your death is important and preparing a Will is the simplest way to ensure that your funds and property will be distributed according to your wishes. And, you’re not alone, published in 2007, Harris Interactive for Martindale-Hubbell conducted a research study finding that for the last three years, 55% of all adult Americans do not have a will. Only one in three African American adults (32 percent) and one in four Hispanic American adults (26 percent) have wills, compared to more than half (52 percent) of white American adults.
If you do not make a Will (or a trust) that determines where your property will go when you die, then your property will be distributed according to your state’s “intestacy” laws through a cumbersome process known as probate. Generally, state intestacy laws give your property to your closest relatives (defined by state law…) usually your spouse, children, parents, or siblings. The best way to avoid having the state decide who will get your property is to make a basic Will.
For parents of minor children, a Will is especially important for you and your spouse because it allows you to name guardians for your children if both parents become deceased.
A Will is a legal document designating the transfer of your property and assets after you die, and can be written by any person over the age of 18 who is of sound mind and memory.
Writing a Will doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. A quick web search will turn up many sites like ours (www.doyourownwill.com) that can offer basic forms and information.
Consult an Attorney
It is always advisable to seek qualified legal advice form an attorney when reviewing any documents and preparing your Will no matter how basic or simple you feel it is. And, although a basic online Last Will and Testament can work for many people, it is not appropriate for everyone and professional legal advice is required if you want to deviate from standard basic language or want estate planning advice. Some of those variations and issues include:
- Conflict and contests: If you think that anyone may contest or fight your Will then you should consult an attorney to make sure you are well prepared and protected;
- Conditions in your Will: If you want to put conditions on your gifts. A condition is any restriction that limits the beneficiary’s ownership of a gift. For example, you want to give your house to your wife, but after she dies, you want it to go to your sister. A lawyer will ensure those conditions are properly drafted and enforceable;
- Estate taxes: If your property is worth millions of dollars you should see a lawyer to help avoid high estate taxes. This is not an issue for the vast majority of people because you must typically be wealthy to pay federal estate tax. Many states also have estate taxes and those limits are generally somewhat lower than the federal threshold. Be sure to do some background research and if your estate might be subject to estate tax, see an estate planning attorney or tax professional for help.
- Child with a Disability – and special trusts or continued care for children must be prepared with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney;
- Disinheriting: Disinheriting anyone (but especially family members) is a process that must include the advice and assistance of a qualified attorney.
The information on this website is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.