Many people have this notion that only the extremely rich and wealthy need a will. Although in reality, writing a will can greatly benefit not just you, but also your loved ones. It lets them know what your last wishes are in terms of your estate, assets, and the kind of health care you want in the form of a document that is legally binding.
Not many people are familiar with estate law, especially in the process of drafting a will, making a will, or contesting a will. Opposite to what most people believe, last wills and testaments aren’t just for trust administration and distribution of inheritance after the death of a loved one.
Why Do You Need to Make a Will?
Passing away without a last will and testament makes all your property and estate assets an “intestate asset.” This means that you didn’t make a valid will or other binding declaration which can lead to issues regarding your finances and properties at your time of death.
Preparing a will can seem like an arduous task, but it can be beneficial to you in the long run. If you pass away without making a will, the heirs, who are most likely your surviving family members, will have to possibly go through an estate administration (court probate). However, avoiding the probate process isn’t impossible. A Tacoma estate attorney can give you the legal help you need in your estate planning and avoid probate court procedures.
A last will and testament is essentially a legal document so it must comply with Washington state laws. Estate planning laws may vary in each state, so to avoid legal issues when you draft a will, seek the legal assistance of an experienced Tacoma estate planning attorney to help you with the legal process and paperwork of creating a will.
How Do You Write a Will?
Writing last wills and testaments can be technical and has to follow certain legal procedures. One of the statutes that a testator has to follow to make a will valid is having two witnesses when signing a will.
Of course, there are many other things you need to know on how to write a will. In this article, we’ll only try to give you an overview of the things you should avoid when creating a will.
- A property with a joint tenant. A joint tenancy property refers to a legal arrangement in which two or more people (e.g. a married couple) own property together, each with equal rights and obligations. According to estate laws, the right of survivorship is automatically granted to your joint tenant when you die, and your property share is transferred to the other tenant, making your will invalid.
- A property placed in a living trust. One way of avoiding probate procedures in court is by creating a trust for your estate. Properties in a living trust can avoid probate, while properties placed in a will can’t. You can’t also place a property in a will that is already entrusted to a trustee for an heir in a living trust. If you’re planning to make changes in a revocable living trust, you must fill out trust documents and forms instead of a will.
- Proceeds from a retirement plan. This includes money from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), pension, or 401 (k). These kinds of plans have forms where you place the name of the beneficiaries.
- Life insurance plans with beneficiaries. Similar to a trust, proceeds of life insurance policies automatically go to the beneficiaries usually the surviving spouse, children, or even grandchildren. If you wish to make changes to these, you may do so through the insurance company.
- Assets on a Payable on Death (POD) bank accounts, bonds, and stocks. To make changes in your beneficiaries, you must directly talk to the institutions responsible for handling your account.
There are different estate laws and procedures to consider when creating a will. To make sure that you will experience fuss-free estate planning, hire a Tacoma estate planning lawyer today.
Here at James A. Jones Attorney At Law, we have competent attorneys who can help you process your legal documents and forms for your estate plan. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.