When you start to think about what happens when you die, you wonder most about what will happen to your loved ones and how they will be cared for after you are gone. No one enjoys thinking about their own mortality, but it is the right thing to do to care for your loved ones.
Understanding your options requires a discussion with a trusted estate planning lawyer. He or she can help you decide what the best path forward is for your estate plan.
What is a will?
A last will and testament is a legal document laying out what you want to have happen to your assets and your belongings after you are gone. A will answers questions like:
- Who gets the car?
- What happens to the business?
- Who receives the china collection?
By thinking about these questions now, you can relieve some stress off your loved one’s shoulders. When you make all of the decisions in advance, they don’t have to worry about what you might want.
Do I need a new will if I move?
Every state has different rules for drafting a will. Some states require two witnesses and a notary public. Other states only require witnesses. It’s important that you know the requirements of the state in which your will was drafted.
When you move to a new state, you do not need a new will if your will was drafted in accordance with the laws of your previous residence state. However, it’s always a good idea to update your will whenever you have a big life event, like moving to a new state.
How do I update my will?
To update your will, you need to speak with an attorney you trust. You need an estate planning lawyer who has experience in your new state and understands the laws of your state to make sure your will is drafted according to the law and is valid.
There are online sources that claim to provide you with a do-it-yourself will. Answer a few questions, pay a fee, and you have a will. This may sound convenient but you aren’t able to speak with anyone when you have questions about why your will has to include certain language. Furthermore, your will may end up being just a template version — and that’s not what you want or deserve.
What happens if my will isn’t valid?
If your will is deemed to be invalid, meaning it wasn’t executed in accordance with the state laws, then it could spell trouble for your heirs. In some instances, you may have had a previous will. Some courts will revert to that will, if it is valid, and distribute your assets according to your older will.
Other courts may determine you do not have a valid will and have died intestate. This means the court will decide how to distribute your assets, usually evenly among your direct heirs, possibly leaving some heirs who you intended to receive items completely out.
Make sure you have a valid will
When you meet with a skilled and experienced estate planning attorney, you can rest assured your will meets the legal standards and will not be invalid. Visiting an attorney will give you the guidance you need to ensure you have your will drafted properly and that it conveys your wishes about how your assets should be distributed.