The idea that you will not be around forever is never an easy truth to face, and knowing that you will leave behind loved ones makes it even more challenging.
In order to make the situation easier for your loved ones, it is essential that you take the appropriate actions to guarantee that you will leave them with their intended assets.
The most important thing that you can do to ensure that your property is handled appropriately is to create a last will. A will is a legal document that dictates who will receive your property, names guardians for your children, and even allows you to specify funeral arrangements.
Steps to Creating a Last Will
1. Do Your Research
The most important step in setting up your last will is to conduct research and do your due diligence to ensure that the appropriate legal measures are taken. These specific processes vary by state, thus it is highly recommended to conduct this process with the assistance of a qualified and reputable lawyer.
2. Aggregate Your Assets
When setting up your last will, it is imperative that you create an organized list that includes all your real estate, bank accounts, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. Make sure that all of the account numbers, answers to security questions, and any other necessary information is included.
3. Choose Your Executor
An executor of the will is the person legally responsible for ensuring that all specifications of your will are carried out, your assets are appropriately distributed, and that your financial assets are resolved.
It is highly recommended that this person receives part of your assets since they bear the responsibility of executing your will.
4. Choose Your Beneficiaries
Your beneficiaries are the people who will receive your assets upon your passing. It is important that you are specific with naming the people and stating the amounts that they will receive.
5. Name Guardians for Your Children
If you have children under the age of 18, it is recommended to make a list of at least three guardians (in order of preference) for your children if you pass away. This ensures that there are people of your choosing who will take care of your children if the first choice is unable to do so. If you have the means, it is wise to leave the guardians with financial assistance by naming them as beneficiaries as well.
6. Select a Witness to Sign Your Last Will
You must have a witness sign your will who is not a beneficiary. The number of witnesses involved and the formalities of signing vary by state. It is important that the specifications are carried through exactly as mandated or else your will may not hold up during probate
7. Keep Your Will In a Safe Location
Once your last will has been lawfully created, it is important to keep it in a safe, secure, and accessible location. It is also wise to inform a trusted person, perhaps your executor, of its locations.
Updating Your Last Will
You should always update your will after the event of a significant life event regarding:
- A marriage or divorce
- An acquisition of new property
- The birth of a child
- The death of a spouse
- The sale or purchase of a business
The Bottom Line
If your estate is particularly large, you have joint custody of a property, you own a business, you own property abroad, or if you think someone may question the validity of your will then it is especially important to hire a lawyer for your last will.
Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri in San Jose is a reputable law firm whose lawyers make it their priority to protect your assets from an extensive probate process.
If you are living in San Jose and want to leave a legacy for your loved ones, our attorneys will help make your intentions a reality. Set up a free consultation with us.