Living in the present is important. This is a mantra that passes through many cultures for good reason. Dwelling on the past is mostly pointless and a waste of energy, while looking too far ahead into the future can suck the joy out of the current moment. That isn’t to say planning ahead is fruitless, however. On the contrary, planning for the future is an important part of ensuring peace of mind for the present. No one knows what’s in store for tomorrow, so it’s best to at least lay out a plan that allows you to enjoy today to its fullest.
But what exactly should we be planning for? Rare and apocalyptic circumstances like volcanic eruptions and meteor strikes are both highly unlikely and highly uncontrollable, so there’s little to do about those. Still, it’s pragmatic to think about what would happen to your money, belongings, and assets should anything happen to you. No one wants to think about their own death, but for people with families, dependents, or close friends, it’s wise to come up with a plan for who gets what (if anything) after you’ve moved on. Without a plan you leave the possibility open for conflict, financial and legal disputes, and overall confusion and stress among those you leave behind.
This is where wills come in. Wills (also known as testaments) are legal documents outlining in detail the wishes of a person after their death (the testator), namely the distribution of their property, known as an estate. Lawyers for wills and estates specifically deal with these documents and understand all that is involved with the process. Here a just a few examples of things lawyers for wills and estates can and will do for their clients.
Determine the Type of Will
Not everyone has the same situation, therefore not every will is the same. There are different types of wills for different circumstances. For example, a will that sealed and not released until the death of the testator is called a mystic will. A reciprocal will is one made by at least two parties in which similar or identical terms and provisions are made for the other. This is a common type of will for spouses and partners. A will without a named executor is called an unsolemn will. There are several other types of wills for different situations. Lawyers for wills and estates will be able to identify which type of will is best suited for their client’s needs, go over it with them, and go from there.
Decide What’s in the Will
The most involved and perhaps difficult part of drafting a will and testament is deciding what’s included and to whom it goes. People with smaller families might have an easier time with this, while those with several loved ones might find the task a bit overwhelming. After all, how can one easily decide who is deserving of what? Good lawyers for wills and estates understand this dilemma and will help their client work through these tough decisions. The lawyer might advise that financial resources be divided evenly among children, and that less valuable items be donated, sold, or left to the discretion of the executor. Items with nostalgic or personal value can be left to the person who will treasure them most. Other assets, such as real estate, can be liquidated and divided among children and close relatives in the form of cash. Whatever decisions are made, the lawyer will know how to go about writing these wishes in legal form and seeing that the client’s wishes are met.
Filing and Processing
Perhaps even more stressful than writing the will itself is processing it. This can be time consuming and sometimes confusing, which is why it helps to consult a lawyer. They will file and turn in the proper documents to begin the probate process. This involves filing a petition with the probate court, notifying the creditors of the estate, taking inventory, withdrawing expenses and taxes from the estate, and handling any claims made against the petition until it is finally approved. While most wills go through this process fairly smoothly, it helps to have a lawyer on hand to oversee any complications that might arise and provide necessary legal advice.