Last Will And Testament
Death is a subject that no one wants to talk or even think about, but the certainty of death makes being prepared all the more important. Preparing means sitting down with loved ones to make key decisions regarding what will happen to your belongings when you pass away.
A critical starting point for estate planning is the preparation of a Last Will and Testament.
A will can determine who gets what property in your estate, name an executor, and name a guardian for your minor children. However, it cannot do everything. Wills do not determine the disposition of property that is not part of your probate estate, such as retirement accounts with a named beneficiary or property owned jointly with someone else.
Unfortunately, our death is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.”
You must be of sound mind to realize that you are creating a will
Your will must be in writing
You need to sign the will in the presence of two witnesses
Both witnesses also need to sign the will
If certain formalities are not met, your will may be deemed invalid and your assets will pass as though one never existed.
Not only do you want your will to meet these basic formalities, but you also want the will to achieve your estate planning goals.
When in doubt, it is always better to meet with a North Carolina estate planning attorney before choosing to create a will online on your own.
A will allows you to leave specific assets to specific individuals or to give all of your beneficiaries a shared interest in your assets. Before deciding how you want to leave your assets, you should consider the financial resources available to your heirs, how financially responsible your heirs are, and whether they can handle the responsibility that comes with inheriting certain assets – most importantly, real estate. A will can be used to create a trust to hold property for someone who doesn’t have the knowledge or maturity to manage the property effectively.
Wills can also be modified at a later time by a codicil (amendment) or by revoking a prior will and creating a new one. This is key, because you should regularly review your will (and modify if necessary) to ensure that it still meets your estate planning goals. A review of your will is especially important following a major life event such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or a major change in your assets (such as purchasing real estate).