How to Write a Will
Daic Law is proud to now offer will drafting services to our clients in Texas. As part of our commitment to our clients and their families, we want you to have relevant and useful information available to help you make the best decisions for your future. In this post, we provide some helpful information on how to write a will in Texas, why having a will is important, and why working with a will drafting lawyer can be helpful.
Why Write a Will
No one likes to think about being incapacitated or dying, but it is a reality that we all must consider. What will happen to your assets, property, financial accounts, and debts if you are no longer able to tend to them, or if you pass away unexpectedly? If you don’t have a will, your assets and debts will fall into the probate process, which can take months or even years to complete. During this time, you and your loved ones will have little or no involvement in how assets are distributed, or how debts are resolved.
If you do have a will, however, your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. The person you name as executor will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are upheld, and that any debts are resolved successfully. In short, having a will protects your rights and wishes, and prevents your loved ones from enduring a lengthy and potentially costly probate process.
The Will Drafting Process
When it comes to any legally binding document, we always recommend working with a lawyer to ensure it is complete and legally sound. However, there are many things you can do before actually drafting your will to get the process started and be well prepared for meeting with a lawyer.
Here are the usual steps involved in writing a will:
1. Gather Information
The first step in drafting a will is gathering all the necessary information that could factor into your will or overall estate planning. Some important information to gather and consider includes:
- Assets: Make a list of all property that you own, including real estate, vehicles, family heirlooms, art, bank accounts, etc.
- Debts: Make a list of any debts that you have that may need to be paid out from your estate after death.
- Taxes: Taxes are an important consideration. You may have taxes that need to be paid after death. Your property may also have tax requirements that should be factored into your will for whomever inherits the property.
2. Determine Important Parties
The next step is determining the important parties who will be named in your will. This includes:
- Executor: The person who you trust to be in charge of distributing assets and resolving debts.
- Beneficiaries: Determine who you want to receive your assets, such as property, insurance policies, or finances. You will need to identify these individuals including their:
- Full Name
- Social Security numbers
- Guardians: If you have children that require care, a guardian is the person you choose to take care of your children and their property if you are no longer able to do so. If both parents die, the guardian will then step in to be the primary caregiver. You may decide to have more than one guardian so there is a standby or assistance.
- Pet Care: Many people assign a guardian for their pets. You can choose a guardian who will care for your pets and manage any funds you allocate to your pet’s care after death.
3. Write the Will
You don’t need a lawyer to write the will for you, but we do recommend having a lawyer at least review the will before signing to ensure it is complete and legally binding. To write the will yourself, you can use an online template or work with a lawyer. Will templates are generally self-explanatory and most people complete them easily.
Once you write the will, you will need to have it reviewed by a lawyer to ensure the will is executed according to state law. If it is not properly executed, your wishes may be invalid and your estate tied up in probate. To execute a will, you must establish the following:
- You are over 18 years old
- You are of sound mind
- You have witnesses to sign the will
Your witnesses must also be over 18 years old, and must not be someone listed as a beneficiary. These witnesses may be called upon by a judge if your will is contested after death.
4. Store Your Will Safely
Once your will is written and executed, it is important to store it safely. Many people choose to have their will stored electronically. This eliminates the concern of documents being destroyed in a disaster or over time. If you work with a lawyer, you can be certain that a copy of your executed will is on file with their office, which offers great peace of mind.
If you are storing your will on your own, we recommend the following:
- A safety deposit box
- A fireproof home-safe
- Electronically on an external hard drive
- Have your executor keep a copy separately
5. Updating Your Will
With so many people choosing to draft a will in their early adult years, updating your will is more important than ever. As your financial situation changes, you may have changes to your beneficiaries and the property or assets you have to distribute. It is important to update your will and ensure it is still legally binding as your situation changes.
Any major life event is a good time to review your will and have it updated. We recommend a review and update after:
- Starting or selling a business
- Death of a spouse
- Change of job or insurance policies
- Moving to a new state
Any of these major changes could change your estate plan and what you include in your will.
How a Lawyer Can Help with Writing a Will
You will is something of a window into your life and how you want your assets and debts to be managed when you are no longer here. Working with a lawyer when drafting and executing your will is a great way to avoid potential obstacles down the road. Wills and the wishes they hold are as unique as the individual and family represented. A one-size-fits-all template or program may not be the best way to ensure that your wishes are upheld.
If you have very specific instructions, multiple beneficiaries, business interests, or complex assets, having a lawyer assist you with writing and executing your will can offer great peace of mind. A lawyer can also help you draft important supplementary documents, such as power of attorney or trusts. Not only will you have peace of mind that your will is complete and legally binding, but you also could save your loved ones a great deal of time, money, and heartache by avoiding conflict after your death.
Learn More about Daic Law’s Will Drafting Services
If you are interested in having a will drafted or reviewed, Daic Law can help. We help clients throughout Texas get the peace of mind they need that their wishes and loved ones will be protected when they are gone.
Find out more about our will drafting services by contacting us at 877-893-6040, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also schedule a free consultation right away by clicking here.