A will is a legal document used to provide clear and binding instructions on how you want your assets to be distributed after you die. Everyone should have a will, because they can also be used to identify a person who you want to handle your property, known as the executor and who should be the guardian of your minor children, if both parents die.
Yahoo Finance’s article, “What Does a Last Will and Testament Actually Do?” explains that a last will and testament has instructions for what you want to happen with your assets. A will also designates an executor, names beneficiaries and more. You should work with a qualified estate planning lawyer, when preparing one.
A will should name an executor to carry out the wishes you set out in your will. Your executor is a person you trust to carry out your post-life plans by distributing your assets and other property. Your executor has six months to one year to file your will with probate court, depending on the state in which you resided. Probate happens with or without a will, but having a will ensures your wishes are carried out the way you intended.
Your executor is also required to contact any creditors about outstanding debts and to use your assets to pay these bills. The remaining estate can then be distributed.
If you created a will as a young adult, your circumstances have probably changed. You need to update your will as soon as possible. This could mean adding children that have become a part of your family, since you created your will.
This means your updated will should name a guardian, in the event you pass away unexpectedly and leave orphaned minor children.
You should make changes to your will and your estate plan, when major events occur in your life. That includes marriage, divorce, death and birth. If something unfortunate occurs, and you don’t have a will or your will isn’t updated, a judge will decide how to handle your affairs.
There are assets that are not controlled by a will. If you have retirement accounts, investment accounts or a life insurance policy, you probably assigned a beneficiary to each account. The people who are named as beneficiaries receive those assets directly, regardless of what your will says.
Reference: Yahoo Finance (September 17, 2019) “What Does a Last Will and Testament Actually Do?”