Common Questions Our Clients Have About Wills
One important step in planning for your future is the creation of a last will and testament. This can be a standalone document or as part of a larger estate plan. At The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc., we have the experience needed to help you draft a will and understand what it means for your loved ones.
To learn more about a last will and testament, please read through the frequently asked questions below or contact one of our four office locations today.
What is a last will and testament?
A last will and testament, often just called a will, is a document that describes how you wish your estate to be handled after your death. In your will, you can direct assets and property to certain family members or loved ones, name guardians for minor children and name the person who will manage the distribution of your estate.
Do I need a will?
There is no legal requirement that everyone have a will. But with a legal will in place, you are preserving your voice to be heard after you have passed away. It is the best way to protect your wishes and save your loved ones from agonizing over your estate.
What happens if I die without a will?
In the event you die and do not have a will, the courts will consider you as having died “intestate” and will take over the process of administering your estate. Your assets and property will be distributed according to state law, despite any claims from surviving family members as to how you had wished your estate to be handled. So, having a will ensures that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes and not just according to state law.
Do I need an attorney to create a will?
It is not required that you have a lawyer when creating a last will and testament. There are many places online where you can find do-it-yourself directions. However, it is in your best interests to have an attorney guide you through the process to ensure your intentions are clearly stated and the will encompasses all your wishes.
Can I change my will after it is written?
Yes, you can create a new will to take the place of any previous wills. In fact, it is often a good idea to review your will and any other estate planning documents every so often and in the event of any major life changes. This way, you can ensure your will is up to date and accurate at all times.
Can I leave someone out of my will?
While there are some protections for spouses and/or children, you can typically include or leave out anyone you wish in your will. If you are leaving someone out and have no intention of any of your estate going to them, it is best to be very specific in your will about that situation.
What makes a will legal?
The courts consider a will valid and legally binding based on three criteria:
- Mental capacity: You must be competent, able to make your own decisions and of sound mind when creating and signing your last will and testament.
- Free will: A will is not legal if you are being pressured or have succumbed to undue influence when writing and signing your will. You must be doing so freely and without any outside influence.
- Witnesses: When you sign the will that has been drafted, your signing must be witnessed by two individuals. These people cannot be related to you, nor can they be named in your will as beneficiaries of your estate.