If you were to pass on tomorrow, do you know what happens to those dependent on you? To all the assets you have procured throughout your life? Covid-19 has made many contemplate their lives and the need to plan for the well-being of their loved ones.
What might help is a will – to leave behind your legacy on your own terms.
A will is a legally binding document used to express what you wish to do with your assets. There are more functions to your will than passing on your assets.
So, What Can Your Will Achieve?
Through your will, you can decide whether you wish to pass on your assets, donate it to a charity or direct them towards an organization. These assets include your property, bank balances, intellectual possessions, digital assets, and online accounts.
Beyond this, a will allows you to identify guardians for your children and pets. However, you cannot leave certain kinds of property in your will.
Types of Wills
These are handwritten wills, signed by the testator without the need for any witnesses. Some states do not accept a holographic will due to its lack of authenticity in the lack of witnesses to prove the mental capacity of the testator.
Here, the person making the will speaks their wishes before witnesses. While the oral will may have a written record, it still lacks authenticity because it is not made by the testator themselves, and consequently is not considered a written will.
These wills are usually not recognized by courts.
These are created by couples who wish to ensure their children, and not a new spouse, inherit their property. The will becomes irrevocable after one party of the will dies. Due to its complex nature and state policies, it is suggested to take professional help at the time of making one.
When a person passes away leaving assets in their will, a pour-over will pours these assets into the trust made by the testator, and then distributes them to the trustee. Essentially, a pour-over will is used to transfer assets from the will to the trust, and then works together with the trust.
Legal Requirements for a Will
For your will to be able to do or not do what it usually does, you need to legalize your will.
Know Your Property
Know what properties you have and what you wish to do with them in a “sound mind.”
It is essential that you mention names of your beneficiaries for at least some of your properties.
Have 2 Witnesses
Get your will signed by 2 witnesses to make it authentic by proving your state of mind. Ensure your witnesses have no stake in your choices.
Sign Your Will
Your will cannot be considered complete unless you approve its contents with a signature.
A notarized will is not mandatory. However, a notarized self-proving affidavit makes it easier for your loved ones in probate court.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Will?
The court supervises the transfer of your assets as per a formula if you don’t have a will prepared. This means, some of your assets might get transferred to someone you do not wish to. It might get more complicated if you have children. The court appoints a representative to look after their needs. Not having a will can also impact your taxes, while having one can help reduce your estate tax liability.