A will is a legal document that describes your last will and testament. It lets you decide what happens with your estate after you die. It is a legal document that allows you to make your wishes known when you are no longer alive. This means that, by having a will, you are able to leave instructions for the distribution of your estate, where you can name someone as the Executor of your Will to carry out these instructions on your behalf.
When you die without a will, you leave important decisions up to a state’s court of law to have a say in who receives your property and other assets, as you will no longer be there. A Will distributes your property, names the executor, names the guardians to your children and many more, just to name a few positives. Having a will also means that you, rather than your state’s laws, decide who gets your property when you die. In most cases, wills are typewritten legal documents that are printed, signed and witnessed.
A will enables you to have control over your property even after you are deceased. For instance, how your estate should be distributed. If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed to your relatives according to a certain legal formula. This can be very different from what you wanted or intended to happen. It can also cause complications, delays and extra costs for those you leave behind. If you die without having written a will and you don’t have any relatives, your estate will go to the government.
When you die without a will or other estate plan, the state laws, known as “intestate succession laws”, decide which family members will inherit your estate and in what proportion. In most cases, your spouse, children, or parents take priority under intestate succession. For those who know the importance of having a will, is that they want to distribute their property differently than the state would distribute it. For example, many people want to leave gifts to friends, neighbours, girlfriends, boyfriends, schools, or charitable organizations—and intestate succession does not allow for any of that. If you want other people or organizations to inherit some of your property, or if you want to decide the proportions of your gifts, a will can make sure your wishes are followed.
The division of an estate after death comes with many emotions. A will that clearly lays out your wishes may reduce conflict and speculation over what you “would have” wanted. The slightest differences can result in hurt feeling and recriminations. For example, if you are in a second marriage and have children from your first marriage you may want to use a will to clearly distribute your property between your second spouse and your children. Making a plan and writing a will can give you peace of mind and prevent your family from fighting over your possessions.
Do I need a lawyer for me to write a will? Any person can write a will. One does not need to have a lawyer to write it, but the lawyer can be present for purposes of witnessing it. However, to write a valid will, you must be in a good state of mind to understand the nature of your actions. A will can be oral or written. For an oral will to be valid, it has to be made before two or more witnesses of sound mind and full age. A written will is valid only if it is signed and witnessed by two or more competent witnesses.