Young adults often don’t think about needing a Will. For many, death seems far away. Thinking about the end of one’s life can even seem unpleasant.
Even if you’re young and in great health, an accident or unexpected illness can change everything in a flash; and you need to be prepared.
A Brief Overview
For those that don’t already have a Will, there can be some confusion about what a Will actually can and cannot do. Generally, your Will determines the ways your estate will be distributed after death. It may also be used to name Guardians or Trustees for those whom you provide care or supervision.
There are certain things, however, that your Will cannot do. As an example, many states have laws in place that allow your spouse to claim a certain interest in your estate regardless of what your Will might say, meaning you cannot disinherit your spouse. Also, any finances or property controlled by beneficiary designations or by titling will not be affected by your Will. These assets pass automatically at death.
The value of your property or bank account is often immaterial when considering whether or not to have a Will. If you are the sole guardian of your children (or if you and your spouse pass simultaneously) a Will can ensure their continued care by naming a guardian and trustee to care for your child and his/her finances until he/her reaches a more suitable age. Without a Will, a court will be forced to make all of these decisions, resulting in the additional costs of time and money.
Where a parent would leave behind a child with special needs a Will can also include language that creates or references a Special Needs Trust in order to preserve essential needs-based government benefits.
Drafting and Executing a Will
In order to avoid many unintended consequences you should seek the counsel and guidance of a qualified lawyer to ensure that your Will is drafted properly.
Amending Your Will
In the event of a major life change, your Will can be amended to fit your new life situation. This is done in 5 steps:
- Decide what parts of your Will need to be changed.
- Choose a method for amending your Will. For a small change you may want to use a codicil, a simple amendment attached to your original will. If you need to make larger, more complex changes, then a new Will is likely in order..
- Have an attorney draft the codicil or new Will.
- Sign your new Will or codicil before the proper number of witnesses as required by State law. .
- Attach the codicil to your old Will and safely file it. If you have written a new Will, you will need to destroy your old one.
There’s No Time like the Present
No one likes to think about the end of his/her life, but without proper planning, you may be leaving your loved ones vulnerable.
If you’re under 40 and don’t have a Will, now is the time to do it. If you need guidance or counseling, the professional attorneys at Stanko, Senter & Mithcell will be happy to assist you.