Thinking about when and how to write your Last Will and Testament is often on the “I-know-I-need-to-do-that-at-some-point- but-I-don’t-want-to-think-about-it-today” list, right up there with scheduling a colonoscopy and spending a Saturday at the DMV renewing your driver’s license. We get it. It can feel like a necessary evil, and most people procrastinate on it for a pretty long time.
But creating your will doesn’t have to be as painful as it might sound. And once you know when and how to do it, it’ll be a lot less dreadful to think about:
Knowing When It’s Time To Write Your Last Will and Testament
People tend to think they don’t need a will until they’re retired, or growing elderly, or get sick and need an end-of-life plan. But the truth is,
As soon as you have assets or possessions that you want to control at the end of your life, it’s time to draft your will.
We’ll get to how to write your Last Will and Testament in just a moment, but this is a really important point that people often miss. Writing your will, and planning your estate in general, isn’t something to save for your after retirement checklist.
To get more specific, you need a will as soon as:
- You have minor children who will need care should you pass away
- You have possessions or property that you want to ensure go to certain people when you die
- You have finances that you want people other than your spouse, parents, or immediate relations to receive
- You want your estate administration to be simple and straightforward for your family, without the courts getting involved
- You own land you want your heirs to be able to sell as easily as possible
How To Write Your Last Will and Testament
It’s clear that people need to start thinking about estate planning long before they do, but once it’s on your radar, how do you write your Last Will and Testament? We recommend you start the process by considering two things:
Come At It From a Relational Perspective
We believe every good estate plan is more focused on your relationships than your money and other assets. Yes, money is a big part of it, but at the end of your life, your money isn’t really the point – those you love are.
Good estate planning and drafting your will gives you the opportunity to do five things for the people you love:
- Protect and provide for them
- Avoid conflict in their relationships with each other
- Leave your legacy with them
- Preserve special memories for them
- Ease their burdens which are related to your passing
Instead of simply crunching the numbers and figuring out documents, begin thinking about what it could look like to plan your estate in such a way that your relationships are the top priority.
(Hint: if you want to consider relational estate planning vs. traditional estate planning, we’ve got a great read for you – click here to take a look!)
Find The Right Estate Planning Attorney To Help
Once you’ve formulated in your mind what it is you want to accomplish with your Last Will and Testament, it’s important to find an honest, knowledgable estate planning attorney who will listen well and value your goals for your family. Creating your will online is never a good idea. You need an attorney who speaks the legal language in order to be sure your Last Will and Testament will be interpreted by a Judge the way you want it to.
“I’m Too Young For That Stuff”
Like we mentioned briefly above, a lot of people believe they’re too young to need to worry about having a will. But, though it’s tragic, young people pass away from different causes all the time.
If you’re over the age of 18, and you fall under any of the above stipulations, you need a will.
“But, I’m Not Rich”
Another myth people believe is that they need to have a certain amount of money first to make estate planning worthwhile.
But most people hold more value than they think. There are a number of ways you can “have money”, and resources you may not have thought are probably included in your assets.
Here are some questions to help determine how much money you actually have:
- Do you have any bank accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts (IRAs or 401ks) or investment accounts?
- Do you plan to make more money in your future?
- Do you expect an inheritance?
- Do you have life insurance?
- Do you own property?
All of these items can translate to dollars and cents, and they probably add up to more than you think.
You may not be rich, but even the smallest checking account and the oldest car need to go somewhere. Someone will have to take ownership, change titles, and distribute money. Your will is what provides the instructions necessary to take claim to your property after you die without needing to have the courts involved
Ready To Create Your Will?
We work with individuals and families throughout Northern Virginia and the Winchester area to help them understand how to write their Last Will and Testament and accomplish relational estate planning goals.
If you think it’s time to care for your loved ones and assets, click here to request your free estate planning consultation.