Your will is written by a probate lawyer and outlines your wishes in the event of your death, but it can only be enacted if it’s upheld in court after you pass away. A probate lawyer can help you ensure that your will isn’t contested by taking specific steps to ensure that your will conforms to all legal standards, as well as any stipulations specified in it. The following are some tips from our friends at Theus Law Offices on how to make sure your will is upheld after you die, so that your family and friends don’t have to worry about their futures after you pass away.
Ensure Your Will Was Written Correctly
First and foremost, get your will prepared by a lawyer. In some cases, you can prepare your own will using a software program or website; however, it’s best to leave these important tasks up to an expert. If you choose not to hire a lawyer, make sure you’re thoroughly versed in how wills work so that you can properly prepare one on your own. The process for creating a legally binding will varies from state to state, but typically there are four parts: appointing someone as executor of the estate, identifying heirs and beneficiaries, specifying the distribution of assets after death (including donations), and outlining any last wishes. Be sure to ask your lawyer any questions you have about the process.
Decide Who You Want in Charge of Your Estate
When writing your will, think about who you would like in charge of your estate. If no clear heir exists, a court will decide who inherits your money and property. Choose someone you trust completely who won’t have conflicts with others in your family. Ask a lawyer for advice if necessary. Also check if anyone else has been appointed as executor (the person overseeing administration of an estate). If so, decide whether or not you want that person to continue managing things after you pass away; if not, ask another trusted relative or friend to take over instead.
Write an Advanced Healthcare Directive
Everyone should have an advanced healthcare directive, which outlines your wishes for medical care if you are unable to make your own decisions. This can be created and signed while you’re still healthy so that your loved ones will know exactly what to do when it becomes necessary. It might not be a pleasant subject, but don’t wait until something bad happens before addressing these issues. Protect yourself and those around you by talking about these things now.
Choose a Personal Representative/Executor
The executor/personal representative of your estate (the person who will be in charge of distributing assets after you die) needs to be someone you trust. They’ll have complete control over your assets and can sell property, pay off debts, and dole out cash as they see fit — but only within the bounds of your will. It’s a major responsibility, so choose carefully. If possible, choose a relative or friend who doesn’t stand to gain from inheriting your money or property. For example, if you want your sister to act as executor but she stands to inherit a piece of real estate from you, consider naming someone else instead.
Contact a probate lawyer today for help!