Even if you don’t think you do, you already have a will! Every State has laws about how to distribute your property in case you die intestate, or without a valid will. A Judge will make decisions on your behalf, based on the laws of the State. These laws may not be what you want for your estate.
Did you know this?
You probably have “Create a Will” on your list of things to do. It’s probably been there for quite a while — maybe when you got married, or had your first child, or needed to take care of your parents. May be you were going in for surgery or traveling overseas.
It showed up on your radar again which is probably why you are reading this. But, a friend calls to have dinner, the kid has a fever, you ran out of milk or diapers and have to run out to the grocery store and on and on and on.
Life gets in the way. The urgent trumps the important and this important task is back on your to-do list.
But, somehow, rich people manage to find the time to plan ahead, because they know the importance of setting things up properly in case of an emergency or death. Yes, they can pay someone to create the documents, but, they too have to spend time collecting their information such as bank statements and figuring out what they want in their will. They have to schlep over to the attorney’s office with boxes of papers, fill out lengthy intake forms and write a big check at the end!
“One of the key differences between rich people and everyone else is that rich people plan before they need to plan.” Says Ramit Sethi, New York Times Bestselling Author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
Another common reason for avoiding will-writing is that “I don’t have much. So, I don’t need a will.” The thing is: you do. You have bank accounts, credit cards, telephone accounts, rent, mortgage, social media accounts, taxes and so on that someone has to handle when you are gone.
Perhaps you don’t know where to start. There is no magic bullet. It takes some time and thinking on your part. It really is not as hard as you think it is.
You may have heard of sites like RocketLawyer, Legalzoom, Nolo and others which provide drafted documents that are easy to use. But you may have also heard that these “generic” documents could be misleading or omit things you need. However, many of these articles are written by lawyers who want to attract new customers—but what if they are right?
If you are confused or overwhelmed, you have a lot of company. Over 55% of Americans don’t have a will.
Here’s the good news: if you have a fairly basic estate—so, some investments, retirement, and bank accounts, real estate and a few other assets like a car, computers, furniture and jewelry, and maybe a few online accounts—it is totally fine to use an online helper.
After all, these were also drafted by lawyers! And, given that these were drafted for most common use, they are probably better than engaging a lawyer who has limited experience with a few hundred clients!
You’ve probably told yourself countless times “I need to create a Will”, but, confusion and life just got in the way.
1) Handwritten Wills are not valid in most States. Therefore, use one of the services mentioned above or consult with an estate planning attorney.
2) Your Will must be done according to the State of your Primary Residence even if you own property in other states. The Services mentioned above allow you to choose your State.
3) It is best if your Will is notarized. Your bank, town clerk or a paralegal in your company can do this for you. Even though many States don’t require notarization, it’s simple and easy to do.
4) You need at least two witnesses who have to watch you sign and then they sign. Generally, witnesses cannot be someone who inherits from your Will. This is why I recommend a notary at a bank or work, because they can also produce another witness. Witnesses have no obligation to you or your Will.
Disclaimer: This is simple, practical advice. If you have a complicated situation or feel like you need further information, please consult an attorney.
Once you’ve finished your will, of course, be sure to upload it to Jazmine!