When you think of a last will and testament, things like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” or families feuding over an antique lamp may come to mind. After all, only those with wealth take the time to put together a will, right? No. A will can be a great asset in your end of life planning and alleviate worry, confusion, or possible contention among family members and friends.
The importance of having a last will and testament cannot be understated. The team at Miller Funeral Services and Cremation Society of Texas want to give you some insight into why this piece of paper can have a lasting, positive effect.
What Is a Last Will and Testament?
A will, or “testament,” is a legal document that allows you to express your wishes about how your property should be distributed at time of death. It also covers considerations like how to care for your dependents, should you have any.
Wills are not just for those with wealth, or a lot of property. No matter how many assets you have, a will can decrease stress from your family, as they will have knowledge of what to do. Even if you have only a few possessions, an outlined will takes out the guesswork during a time that is upsetting and difficult for all.
Peace of mind is something we all wish to have, and a will can help assure this.
What to Include in a Will
In most cases, the state determines the criteria of what constitutes your will. All wills must be in writing (handwritten wills are acceptable by some states). In rare cases, an oral will can be recognized at one’s deathbed, or in certain situations in which a written will is impossible.
The last will and testament includes the following:
- Issues of guardianship – If you are a parent, this is one of the more important reasons for having a will. This will legally assign the family member or person you choose to care for your child or children in the event you pass away.
- Assets – This includes your bank accounts, cars, heirlooms, jewelry, boats, and other property, which includes pets as they are still considered property by law.
- Real Property – This means a brick and mortar home or business property, including vacation homes, and land.
Choosing an Executor
The executor of a will is legally responsible for carrying out the instructions of the will. The executor, in many cases, is a trusted estate planning attorney, but may also be a relative or friend. The executor carries with them an emotional and time-consuming role that encompasses several important responsibilities, including obtaining the death certificate, handling the estate, filing the will with the probate court, communicating with creditors and beneficiaries, and so forth.
Five Benefits to Having a Will
There are several good reasons why having a will can be advantageous in your end of life plans.
- The last will and testament is a living document. This means you can revisit, amend, and add to your will as life presents new circumstances.
- In a community property state, it alleviates confusion. Community property means that a couple who resides together are responsible for any accumulated debts or assets equally. A will can help assure your property remains with you or those you assign it to, beyond the state stipulations.
- It establishes guardianship. If you have any dependents, it is crucial to assign guardianship to a trusted individual in the event of your passing.
- You decide, not the state. If you choose to outline your will in advance, you are taking control of your assets, rather than having matters be handled by the state or other authority.
- It’s empowering. A will can be a great tool in giving you the confidence and peace of my that your end of life wishes will be met.
We hope we have given you some good information about why a last will and testament is beneficial for you and your loved ones. We know there is much to consider when choosing an executor and composing this important document, so if we can help answer any questions, please do not hesitate to call our team.