Though it can be difficult to think about and plan for death, your will is an extremely important document that inventories your assets and determines what goes to whom after you pass away. Without a will, your successors will likely have a difficult time figuring out how to divide what you’ve left behind, and may face unnecessary delays and expenses. In order to avoid the chaos that can ensue should you pass away without a will, it is recommended that you draft one sooner rather than later. Anything can happen, and it pays to plan ahead.
How do I draft my will?
Drafting a will is a fairly straightforward process. Start by deciding what you own that should be included in your will, then determine who should inherit what. You must also have an executor: a person either named in your will or assigned by the courts to handle your financial affairs after you have passed away. The executor will be responsible for maintaining your property, paying remaining taxes or bills, ensuring that your assets are transferred to their new owners, and, if necessary, appearing in probate court or appointing someone else to do so.
If you are leaving property to underage children and fear that they will not come of age before you pass, you should arrange for guardianship for your children. You should also appoint someone to hold their inheritance until they are of age.
Once your will is written, sign it in front of witnesses and store it in a safe place.
How do I make sure the will is valid?
In order to ensure the validity of your will, you must have an executor and sign it while you are considered to have enough mental capacity to be aware of your actions. You must have at least two people sign the will as witnesses. Notarizing your will is not required in any state.
To be considered capacitated enough to sign your will, you must know what property you possess, what your relevant family relationships are, and what affects your will is likely to have. Though this is not a high standard, capacity is often contested. If you are unsure, whether you qualify as capacitated or if you believe someone may argue that you were not at the time you signed your will, contact us with your questions and concerns.
Be aware that the witnesses must be adults, and they cannot be beneficiaries, meaning that you cannot be leaving them anything in your will. You are not required to let them read the will, but you must inform them that it is a will. In addition, it is recommended that you have witnesses that will likely still be alive after you have passed; the probate court may need to contact them.
Harden Law can help you draft your will, and answer any questions you may have regarding the process. Life is unpredictable and ever-changing; it’s wise to have your affairs in order sooner rather than later. Get in touch with an SC estate planning attorney.