When the time comes for you to say goodbye to the world, who is going to claim your body and address your last wishes? To whom are you going to entrust your home? Who will be responsible for raising your children? How about any pets you might have, who will see to their needs? These are just some of the concerns you need to be aware of and take care of while you can. That is why, as early as you can you should draft your will. And to avoid the long and drawn out procedure known as will and trust litigation, you must ensure that everything is done the proper and legal way.

Why should you write your will?

Writing your will is one of the most significant things you will do in your lifetime. Your will is, after all, the legal document which clearly specifies your wishes as to what will happen to your property, the future of your children (if any), and other assets when you pass away. Your will is where you are able to assign a person to assume the role of legal guardian of your children. No matter how you look at it the writing of your last will and testament is crucial, it is a form of legal command stipulating your final wishes that you leave behind. In your will, it is important you name the executor of your entire estate. One of the executor’s roles is to distribute your assets to all of your selected recipients, whether they are your children, distant relatives, friends, or even employees. This individual must be someone you completely trust, as he or she will be playing the most vital role in handling your estate when you die. Their obligation is to see that your wishes are properly followed.

Being the head of your household, or merely owner of an estate, it is sometimes assumed that when you pass on, you must choose among the people dearest to you to be bequeathed some of your assets. History has shown us that many times family members quarrel over estates left by a deceased relative. There are even instances when someone even resorts to committing a violent act. When the fighting starts peace and harmony among the group becomes compromised. Most importantly your wishes become secondary and those in your life focus on their own desires. The best way to avoid this type of scenario is to take the time to put things in proper order by taking the steps to properly prepare and execute a legally binding last will and testament.

What happens if you die without a will?

Should you pass away without having properly executed a will, not only will your estate, assets, and care for your children be jeopardized, but based on the laws of the state in which you live, the court is given due power to choose and decide on the administration of all your possessions. In these types of scenarios often things can get out of hand, and no matter what your known feelings were about specific people or issues you lose all control of the disposition of your assets and potentially leave behind a significant mess. But with a written will, the decision to appoint recipients is totally up to you. Thus, even if you don’t entrust your home to your legal wife, no one has the authority to question it, since you have left behind legal proof to supporting your last wishes.

How do you legally draft a will?

There are several simple steps that must be taken however there is far more required to ensure everything is done properly. To validate the legality of your will, there are conditions that must be met. You must be a minimum of 18 years old and be able to legally execute a document. You must sign the document in the presence of legal aged witnesses and you must be of sound mind. The most important aspect to guarantee that your will is properly prepared is to work with an estate planning attorney that has some expertise in this field.

It is important to think about your estate and how you want it properly distributed in the future. Who are your potential recipients? What assets or properties would you like to assign for each of them? Since you never know what life holds for you in the future, it is best to plan ahead of time. Draft your will accordingly. To be sure your actions are legal, it will be best to contact a qualified lawyer to help you properly get things put in order. It is through these small steps that will and trust litigation may be avoided in the future.

If you would like some guidance as you go through the process, our lawyers can help. To schedule a meeting with an attorney from Olson Probate, please call 714-847-2500.