by: Candace McDuffie
Many people consider writing a will scary, ominous, and irrevocable. However, it is a vital step in making sure that your assets are distributed as you wish and that your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. You technically don’t need an estate lawyer to write a will in order for it to be legally binding. However, with all of the complications that are inherent to making one, having an attorney by your side guiding such a difficult process will only abate it. Here are three ways the team at Danger Law can make writing your last will and testament a succinct and streamlined experience.
1) By having an impartial Personal Representative (Executor), there is no drama over who is assigned to carry out your will.
An executor is someone who is responsible for completing the directions found in a will. People who are married usually name their spouse as the assigned executor. Outside of significant others, friends and family members tend to be appointed. But complications can arise if said executor disagrees with or doesn’t understand certain parts of the will (who the primary beneficiaries are, designated guardianship for minor or dependent children). Problems can also occur if the executor isn’t willing or able to fulfill their duties. Having an estate lawyer serve as executor would eliminate these things from happening.
2) Consulting with a lawyer to prepare your will ensures the highest levels of knowledge, experience, and skill.
There are plenty of websites that advise people to make their own will–and in many cases will show you how to do it. Some opt for this route because they believe their financial situation is simple and doesn’t need to involve any outside legal parties. However, states have certain rules pertaining to what can validate and invalidate a will. Frequently, self-wills are finalized or signed improperly. Language and wording is extremely important in wills and can derail the process if faulty. Working with skilled professionals who do this for a living will save your family money and time in the long run. In terms of legal fees, wills tend to be billed as a flat fee as opposed to an hourly rate.
3) Estate lawyers can clarify what types of property and assets to include in a will–which covers items people tend to overlook.
A lot of times, it is assumed that the primary function of wills is to depute land and money to loved ones after you are deceased–but it is more involved than that. Property and financial assets that should be included are things like bank accounts, real estate, stocks, bonds, cars, jewelry, furniture, patents, copyrights, retirement funds, and digital assets that generate money. The list goes on and contains even more items that people don’t realize need to be assigned to beneficiaries. An estate lawyer can help you develop a comprehensive list of assets and also advise you on how tax laws and life changes (birth of a child, disability, retirement) can affect your will.
Candace McDuffie is a dedicated journalist and teacher who holds a Master’s Degree in Education specializing in Critical and Creative Thinking from the University at Massachusetts Boston. Her work has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Glamour, Teen Vogue, Vibe, Racked, Brooklyn Magazine, Fusion, WBUR, Metro, and The Daily Dot. She currently teaches creative writing at GrubStreet, a Boston-based nonprofit writing center. You can find more of her work at www.candacemcduffie.com.