What is a Will Lawyer?
A will lawyer is a lawyer that specializes in wills. A will is an estate planning document that allows an individual, called a “testator,” to designate the way in which their property will be distributed upon their death. The property that a testator can dispose of in a will includes both real and personal property.
Wills are often part of an individual’s estate plan. An individual’s estate plan dictates how their property is managed and distributed upon your passing. Most people associate estate planning with wealthy or elderly individuals, but almost anyone can benefit from having a comprehensive estate plan in place.
A will lawyer will be able to assist you with any part of estate planning you wish to put into place. A clear and well-developed estate plan can minimize the tax burden on your loved ones and avoid probate court proceedings.
What Do Will Attorneys Do?
Will attorneys assist individuals in creating their estate plans, or just a will if that is all they desire to have. Will attorneys do many things that are beneficial to individuals in all stages of life. Your lawyer can assist you in drafting a will, trust, power of attorney, or any other necessary documents. All of these work together to protect your hard-earned assets and distribute them as you wish. Every estate plan is unique, but most have common elements, including:
- Your loved ones understanding your wishes;
- Your estate plan clearly stating your wishes;
- A will;
- Health care directives; and
- A financial power of attorney.
It is important to inform your family, loved ones, and any stakeholders of your estate plan that a plan exists and, if you are comfortable, the details of that plan. This will help deter future legal disputes and ensure the plan is executed according to your wishes.
If any of the documents in your estate plan are vague, this could cause unnecessary legal disputes. Your attorney will ensure your plan is clear.
A will is the cornerstone of a strong estate plan. It transfers your property to your beneficiaries and appoints a guardian for your minor children, if needed. A will attorney will ensure your will is clear and contains all necessary language to be valid and enforceable.
A health care directive and a financial power of attorney are important parts of an estate plan. A health care directive takes care of your end-of-life medical treatment and other important medical decisions. A financial power of attorney activates if you become incapacitated and the individual named in the document will make your important legal and financial decisions for you.
A will lawyer can also help you organize your estate. This may make it easier for your loved ones to identify the property in the will and distribute it according to your wishes.
Your lawyer can also assist you in making any changes or updates to your will as time goes on. Your estate plan will evolve just as you evolve and enter new stages of life. In addition, will requirements vary by state and may need to be changed if you move. You should also consider updating your will anytime life events occur such as the birth of a child, a divorce, or a marriage.
Why is it Important to Have a Will Attorney?
It is important to have a will attorney to ensure your property is distributed as you wish. If a will is not in place, your estate will be distributed according to your state’s intestate succession laws.
Without the help of a will lawyer, it can be easy to make mistakes in your estate plan. For example:
- Forgetting to list all of your property in your will or trust arrangements;
- Failing to meet your state’s legal requirements, for example, your will being properly witnessed and executed;
- Listing invalid beneficiaries on your pension, benefits, life insurance, and other accounts;
- Naming an inappropriate or incapable executor or estate administrator; or
- Failing to prepare for contingencies or emergencies, including prolonged illness or a beneficiary’s death.
Any of the mistakes noted above could potentially invalidate your will or have your estate tied up in probate court for a long time. In that case, your assets would not be distributed to your loved ones. The wait can be costly to your loved ones and to whatever property you might have left behind. These are common mistakes that can be avoided with the help of a will lawyer.
How Do I Know if a Will Lawyer is Right for Me?
A will lawyer is right for you if you have any property at all you wish to pass to your loved ones or you want to have an estate plan in place to ensure you are taken care of in the event you become incapacitated. These topics are not topics most individuals enjoy pondering but having these plans in place can provide you peace of mind that you are prepared, no matter the situation.