Learn How To Make Your Will Work As You Intend

Wills vary greatly in complexity. A will can be general and sweeping or it can be highly detailed. When you realize your will may serve as a final message to your loved ones, you may feel a responsibility to put careful thought into it. Yes, your family can read letters or poems written by you, but a will is symbolic in its sense of finality. When you think of it this way, you realize how important it is to do it well.

Here are a few general ideas about how to draft and then formalize a thoughtful will at Howard Law Firm, PLLC, in Benton, Arkansas, with all the important issues to address in your estate planning process.

  1. Before you start, consider whether you have any existing wills. If you create a new one, it will supersede the previous one(s). When you meet with a lawyer to draft a thoughtful new will, bring your old will(s) along. Then decide how to dispose of them or mark them as invalid.
  2. Decide how your assets should be distributed after your death. Before you make it too detailed or complicated, consider the challenges your survivors will face and try to make it useful and informative for them, above all.
  3. If you are married, consider the value of creating companion wills. Realizing that one of you will likely die before the other, you and your spouse can create wills such that the surviving spouse's will is still going to apply after the death of the first one. This can save a grieving widow or widower from having to create a new will immediately after a spouse's death.
  4. If you have minor children, consider who you would choose to be a guardian of those children if both parents should pass away before they reach the age of majority (18). Prepare to include a statement to that effect in your will. It will not guarantee that person would become your children's guardian, but an expression of your desires will likely hold sway with a family law judge. Bring the name and contact information for the person you would choose as a guardian and your attorney and I will help you craft an appropriate statement.
  5. Decide if you would like to put your real estate and other major assets in a trust. This trust can be incorporated into your will. In this case, for the rest of your assets, your will can serve as a pour-over will, accounting for anything in your estate not covered by the trust.
  6. Work with a reliable estate planning lawyer to create and formalize a will that will stand up to challenges. This means it should be signed properly and it should be created while you are fully competent. This is a good reason to create a will while you are young, if possible (whether "young" in your case means you are in your 20s, 40s, 70s or anywhere in between).
  7. Once you have drafted and signed the will, be sure your family knows where it is. Talk to your attorney about recommended places to keep and protect a will.

Let's Review Your Existing Will — Or Create A New One From Scratch

A well-written will is one of life's greatest bargains, even though you will not ultimately see the benefits of the will you create. Nonetheless, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing you have done your best for your spouse, your children or other beneficiaries. I am attorney Lori D. Howard and I welcome the opportunity to assist with your drafting a thoughtful will. Call 501-794-6991 today to schedule our first discussion, or contact me online to get started.