Drafting a will can be one of the most important steps that you take in your adult life. It doesn't matter who you are, what your income is, or how much you have in the way of assets. If you are a person over the age of 18 then you need a will. If nothing else, it provides you with a road map for how to assist your family in handling the logistical and financial matters of your life after you pass away. While it is not always easy to think about difficult subjects like this the reality is that we are all going to die. Preparing a will not do anything to hasten your passing away.
They will not have to be a complex documents. In fact, for most people having a will means that the document itself should be pretty straightforward. The more complex your life is the more complex your will is on a general basis. For instance, if you have a complicated situation with your family involving your children or other family members then you may have special reasons to leave people out of here will provide for a certain person especially. Likewise, she had a complicated financial life in terms of being extremely wealthy or having assets that you particularly want to protect then you are will they reflect that.
Having a well is the responsible thing to do for you and your family, however, having a will is more to benefit your family than it is for you in your memory. They will not be something that you do one time and instead away until after you pass away. Rather, your will should be something that reviews on a fairly regular basis even if you do not need to make any changes or additions. I recommend that they do a reading of the will before your old age or even a time when you believe that you may be critically ill.
We have all seen parts of movies where there is a dramatic reading of a will is done after the rich, older relative passes away. It usually involves some sort of stopping scene where Geordie of the family is left out in favor of ne'er do well distant relative or a new spouse. The family is left heartbroken and the surprising conscience of the will ends up having a far-reaching impact on the family and the rest of the movie. However, I know you do not want your life to become a bad movie. As a result, I recommend that you take a different course of action when it comes to handling your will and other end-of-life matters.
Specifically, recommend that you have a reading of your will almost immediately after having the will completed. While you are still in good enough shape to discuss I think this is a great idea so that there are no questions and no confusion about what is going to happen when you pass away. The last thing your family needs to deal with is the shock and confusion about why they were left out of the will or why such and such relative is getting more than another relative in junior estate planning.
What it also does is allows any relatives who were kept out of the will to speak to you about the reasoning why and may allow them to make changes to their lives to regain status as a beneficiary under your will. Again, only you know the exact circumstances that you are dealing with in your family. You may not have any relatives who need to be told about the contents of your will in this way. However, I still think it is wise to speak to your immediate family about the contents of your will. It could be a quick discussion to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
In the day, you will want your family to be able to focus on their grieving but also their positive memories of you when it comes time for you to pass on. What you do not want to see happen is for your family to spend a long period after your passing discussing a will or arguing about its contents. This is almost assuredly not healthy for anyone and could be avoided if you had taken the time to talk to your family about the will ahead of time.
Benefits of hiring an attorney to help you draft your will
When it comes to drafting a will there are two general reasons why I think it is important for you to at least consider hiring an attorney. The first would be because you are attorney has a level of experience in handling matters related to estate planning over and above what you possess. This means that you may not anticipate certain events occurring in your life that may require different types of provisions or protections being included in the will. For example, there may be tax advantages in creating a particular type of trust within the will that you were not aware of before speaking with your attorney. You may lose out on tax savings by not considering the full implications of your decision-making.
An attorney will help your problems solve through tricky circumstances that you may encounter in your situation and can provide you with solutions that you may not maybe even ever been aware of. This does not mean that an attorney can solve all your problems. However, what it does mean is that having an attorney provides you with a level of competency to make sure that what you decide to include in your will is thorough and suits your family for the best.
The second benefit to having an experienced estate planning attorney by your side within a case is to ensure that your will is valid and has a minimal chance of being contested in court. One of the major ways that a probate court can ruin an otherwise good estate plan would be to have a judge not be able to enforce the terms of your will after it is challenged by a relative. Small mistakes and drafting a document can lead to big problems for your family after you pass.
Making changes to your will does not have to be difficult
With all of that said, simply having a will is not enough to prepare for end-of-life circumstances. Many people will have a well-drafted with their spouse when they first get married, took the will away and not make any changes for many years, or will never pick the wheel back up and make any changes at all. This is a huge mistake. Your life and my stand to change so much over a few decades that a will written 25 years ago probably does not reflect half of your current needs.
Children are born. Sadly, children die. You could get married, divorced, and then remarried again. You may have written a will when you first got married and had very little in the way of assets. However, now that you are more established in your career you may have a great deal of wealth and that is not reflected in the terms of your original will drafted many years ago. The point is that you need to be able to make changes when necessary to your will. This does not mean that you need to make changes for no reason or invent reasons to change the terms of your will. However, as your life changes so must your will.
One of the reasons why people tell me they do not want to go back and change or update the terms of a will is because it is too much work in their minds. Having enough gumption and sticking with the project long enough was one of the most difficult reasons why you may have struggled to create a will in the first place. Now that you are past the point of creating a will why should you now have to go back and revisit many of those same unpleasant memories and periods of the same sort of uneasiness that you had when your initial will was created?
To that, I would say it is not difficult to update or change a will. If you can remember the process that you went through to draft your original will then updating a will should not intimidate you. rather, the process of updating a will should be something like a refresher course or even an opportunity for you to revisit prior estate planning goals in hopes of avoiding problems with the end-of-life scenarios. Specifically, you would be able to either create an entirely new will or could make what is called a codicil to your existing will.
If you need to update certain parts of your will then you would need to have drafted a codicil. They caught us ill may reflect small changes that need to be made tear will it should not be used for major, wholesale updates for a will. Examples of relatively small matters that could be covered by a codicil include name changes if you were to have gotten married and simply need to update your name, changing details about your executor or their information, updating the name of a beneficiary if their name were to have changed over time or updating age benchmarks for a child to begin to receive benefits under the will.
An important thing to keep in mind is that just because the information updated in a codicil is not incredibly remarkable does that mean that the process of creating the crowd itself does not have to be formalized. Just as with your original wheel, the codicil tear will be signed and witnessed in the same way. You can not simply draft and update tear will by yourself and then staple it to your original wheel. Rather, he must again locate two witnesses and have the document notarized just as you did your original will.
One of the benefits of having a codicil to a wheel drafted is that it is less expensive to do so as compared to completely drafting a new will. The codicil is not a free-standing document. It is an addendum to your current will. Another aspect to think about is what you are attempting to do in creating a will. If you are attempting to update beneficiaries under your will then you may want to just create an entirely new document rather than do this through a codicil. The reason being is that your loved one may see your original will and be upset with you about either being left out of the original version or taken out in the codicil. In those types of situations, it is better to simply have never shown that person the original will or codicil.
Creating a new will
Finally, if creating a Carter cell to your original will does not make sense given your circumstances then you may be interested in having a completely new will drawn up. This would require you to go through the same process you did for the creation of your original will. However, he would be able to rely upon the structure have your original will and would probably just be updating specific language to show updates in beneficiaries or things of that nature. as always, if you have questions about whether to draft an entirely new will or to simply update a well through a codicil then you should speak with an experienced estate and probate law attorney.
Again, it would be necessary for you to completely rewrite and have a new will created for yourself if you have undergone a lot of changes. How often should you be reviewing the contents of your will to determine whether or not your will needs to be updated? A good rule of thumb for you to utilize is to review the contents of your will every four or five years. This is especially true if you have had children in this period and changed jobs. Or otherwise seen a dramatic change in the course of your life.
additionally, the conclusion of a divorce case is a great opportunity for you to review your will and completely update a draft new document. For instance, I imagine that you would want to remove any reference to your removing them as a beneficiary of yours under the will. He would probably not want your spouse to be able to hear it properly from you after you were divorced. By the same token, if you have either married or had children since you're will was created then that is even more reason to we've prepared to have a new wheel drafted. You will want to be able to make sure that your new spouse or new child is cared for under the terms of your will. You should not assume that the intestate distribution laws of Texas are fair or will be followed accurately.
There are some financial considerations at gemach in terms of being able to update a will. For instance, if you have purchased a new property over the past few years then you would likely want to specify who gets that property if you were to pass away. It may also happen that someone whom you named as an executor under your will has passed away him or herself. In that case, you need need to go here well to name a new executor and secondary executor.
Another interesting scenario could involve you inheriting property after a loved one has passed away. You may want to ensure that whatever was gifted to you stays in your family or goes to a particular relative when you pass away. Sometimes if you fail to specify what you want to see happen with a particular piece of property the court may rule that the entire document as and eligible for consideration. This is a major issue and should be considered.
overall, however, the drafting of a wheel does not have to be something complicated, complex, or stressful. By drafting a will you do not increase the likelihood of your dying. What creating a will does do is increase the likelihood that your family will be well taken care of once you pass away. There is no guarantee of any future success in working with an attorney drafting this document. However, working with experienced probate in estate planning attorney to draft a will is one of the most responsible decisions you can make and certainly one that your family will thank you for years down the road.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed estate and probate law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas estate planning and probate law as well as about how your family may be impacted by the filing of a probate case.
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