A will is a legal document created to distribute an estate owner’s assets and wealth to their family members. It also presents details about guardianships for minor children and detailed instructions about the individual’s final wishes. If you aren’t sure what to add in the document read the 5 things to remember when you start writing your will.
- Jointly Owned Assets Cannot be Included in a Will
Jointly owned assets cannot be included in a will. When creating a will and dividing your assets, you must choose assets that you own. Jointly-owned properties or assets require you to get explicit permission from the other party before reassigning ownership to an heir. However, if you have partial ownership of an asset, you could transfer your rights to the asset to an heir. The family member will not gain full control over the asset unless the other party or their descendants sign a quitclaim. A quitclaim renounces any rights to the asset and transfers full ownership to your heir.
- Use Stipulations When Choosing Trustees or Guardians for Your Children
Stipulations provide additional instructions or impose restrictions on a specific assignment. If you choose a trustee to manage a minor’s portion of your estate, the stipulations prevent the trustee from accessing the assets. The trustee doesn’t make any decisions about the assets, and they ensure that the heir acquires access to their inheritance once they reach the age of majority.
Stipulations that apply to a guardianship protect the child from mistreatment, neglect, and other risks. The instructions might identify an additional choice if the first selection has died or doesn’t want to raise the child. Choosing a new guardian for a child is difficult enough for a parent, but it is necessary for the parents to follow steps to protect their child’s rights in their absence. Parents who need more information can find answers now at mytexaslegacyplan.com.
- Change Beneficiaries According to the Instructions in the Will
Changing beneficiaries on life insurance policies, pension plans, and other financial assets prevents a beneficiary from overriding the assignment in the will. Current laws give full rights for the assets to the individual listed as the beneficiary. The will won’t prevent a former spouse from collecting if you don’t make the necessary changes.
- Creditor Liens, Debts, and the Probate Process
Creditor liens, debts, and the probate process are vital concerns when creating a will. As your estate enters probate, the court determines if you have any outstanding debts that require payment. Creditors can determine if the estate is in probate through public records. Once the lien is applied for an outstanding balance, the probate court determines if the debt is valid. If it is, the creditor seizes assets to collect the full amount you owe. When creating a will, it is vital for you to set up a plan in your will or through your estate plan that addresses outstanding debts before probate.
- Address Any Excluded Heirs
If you wish to exclude an heir from any portion of your estate, attorneys recommend adding stipulations to your will. It is also vital for you to write a letter to the heir and explain your choices. Reading your words places things into perspective and could reduce the chances that the heir might contest your will.
Creating a will gives you control over your assets and how they are divided among your family members. It is legally binding and includes stipulations that direct your family and the executor of your estate. A will gives you better asset protection and offers you a chance to avoid the probate process.