Wills Lawyer Encinitas
Simply put, a will is a legal document that states your final wishes. If you have a spouse, children, stepchildren, or a significant amount of assets, chances are good that you should have one.
For families with younger children in particular, a will is necessary to name a guardian for those children, should both parents die or become incapacitated. A will also ensures your child’s inheritance is secure.
Those who have life insurance policies, retirement accounts and property deeds likely have included beneficiary information, but a will covers much more, such as who gets family heirlooms, vehicles and artwork, to name a few examples. You can even make arrangements for your pets, should they outlive you, by designating someone to be a caregiver and providing financially for their care.
Without a will in place, your assets that don’t designate a beneficiary must go through a court proceeding known as probate, where it will be determined who gets those assets.
Once you have a will in place, you should review it every five years to ensure that it’s up to date and still accurately reflects your future wishes. You can change your will whenever you wish.
Another important element of your will is naming an executor to manage your property and assets until it is distributed according to your wishes. An executor oversees the payment of any taxes owed, handles bills that come up after your death, and appears in court if the estate is in probate.
DIY or Hire an Attorney?
There are lots of resources available to help you create your own will, but there are some circumstances in which it is advisable to hire an attorney to walk you through the process. According to the American Bar Association, you should consult an attorney in the following circumstances:
• Complications exist regarding past marriages, divorce or combined families.
• Anyone in your immediate family has international citizenship.
• You own or have an interest in property outside of your state of residence.
• Your assets exceed a certain amount (typically several million dollars, but this amount changes periodically).
• You or your soon-to-be spouse are marrying or remarrying and complications related to trusts, property ownership or guardianship for minor children could crop up.