Preserving Your Legacy: The Essentials of Last Will and Testament
Create a secure future for your loved ones with our comprehensive guide on the Last will and testament essentials, ensuring your wishes are respected.
Is a Will Important?
When an individual dies without having a valid will, they are said to die intestate (meaning without a will for their estate.) In this case, the court would be left to determine how the assets are distributed and who is awarded the assets and property.
Court decisions can take months or years without a legal will. Many people hire an estate planning attorney in Las Vegas to prepare a last will and testament and act as their personal representative to avoid such a long and painful process for their loved ones.
What Is a Will?
A last will is a legal document stating your final wishes and instructions regarding passing on your assets and property to designated beneficiaries and discharging your debts after your death.
Also included in a last will and testament are provisions for dependents and the management of accounts.
Why is the Last Will Important?
robate in Nevada uses the decedent’s last will and testament to close your estate according to your wishes. Making a will is important for parents of minor children because it allows you to appoint a guardian.
The benefits of making a will include:
Avoiding potential disputes about who is entitled to your assets
Confusions about what assets and property you have
Ensuring your surviving spouse and surviving family members receive your assets according to your estate plan rather than that of the State
Types of Wills and Testaments
There are several types of wills. However, the primary types of wills used by most people are the following:
Last Will and Testament
A last will is the most common type of will. The document appoints a personal representative to act on your behalf and names beneficiaries to receive your remaining assets upon death.
Living Wills, also called Health Care Directives, outline your healthcare preferences if you’re alive but incapacitated. When incapacitated, you can’t consent to treatment. Thus, healthcare professionals will refer to your living will to determine the treatments you may or may not want.
Testamentary (Living) Trust
In a testamentary trust, your assets are placed into a predetermined trust account that your beneficiaries can access after your passing. A trustee will manage your assets and trust account after your passing.
Living trusts do not need to pass through probate, which lowers the cost and the time it will take to distribute your assets after death.
Requirement of a Valid Last Will and Testament Legal
The probate judge will carry out the instructions within your last will as long it meets three conditions. If it does not, you will leave with an intestate estate that will follow its default procedures.
Three conditions make a will valid in the United States:
- You must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind
- The will must be in writing and signed
- the will should be notarized
Writing Your Last Will and Testament
Here are six steps to writing a last will and testament:
- Identify your assets: Make a list of all valuables and to which beneficiary you will give the assets
- Appoint a personal representative (executor): Choose a trusted individual to manage your affairs, pay your bills, and distribute your real property to your beneficiaries. It’s often recommended that the executor is not a beneficiary but a lawyer. The role of the executor of your estate is to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death, according to your instructions. You can also name a backup executor or a co-executor.
- Choose your beneficiaries: List the people or organizations you wish to inherit your estate once your debts are settled.
- Provide for children and pets: Choosing a caretaker for your pets and a legal guardian for your children is crucial. Include any instructions for specific levels of care and allocation of funds. You can name a guardian or executor to safeguard the testator’s estate until your surviving children are eligible to inherit.
- Sign: By state law, the maker of the will and two disinterested witnesses must sign the will before a notary public. This ensures the will was made as a free and voluntary act, not under undue influence. The two witnesses should attest that they witnessed the testator’s signature; both are mentally capable and free from external pressure or inducement.
- Securely store your will: Only the signed original copy can be probated, so the will should be stored safely, such as in a safe deposit box at a financial institution. A copy could be kept in the Will writer’s home files or with the estate lawyer.
Items You Should Not Include In Your Will
Certain things should not be included in your will since they are detrimental. Some of these include:
Joint Tenancy of Real Estate
Regardless of what the will says, the jointly held property automatically grants the other party the right of survivorship when one person dies.
Beneficiary Life Insurance Policy
Like joint tenancy real estate, insurers automatically distribute life insurance proceeds to the beneficiary upon your death.
Retirement Plans, 401Ks, Pensions, IRAs.
Proceeds from retirement plans, such as pensions, IRAs, or 401(k)s, are separate from the probate estate and pass automatically to the beneficiary.
Funeral arrangements generally take place soon after you pass. However, the distribution of your estate can take place several months later. A better arrangement would be to draw up an advance healthcare directive and specify your funeral plans and a way to deal with funeral expenses.
A will isn’t the appropriate document to take care of your wishes of how things should be handled if you are no longer capable of handling your affairs and making decisions. An attorney can help you prepare legal documents, such as a power of attorney.
How Much Does a Last Will and Testament Cost?
The fee to create a last will and testament varies depending on the size and complexity of your estate. Generally, attorneys expect reasonable compensation for their time and effort on your estate.
Some individuals may feel they do not have enough assets to justify the cost of drawing up a last will, have no heirs, or could be too ill to go through the process. In such cases, an attorney can prepare a letter of testamentary without probate. Such a letter allows you to designate an executor for your estate to settle debts, sell the personal property and distribute assets upon death.
The best way to ensure your wishes are carried out once you’re gone is to make a valid will under the laws of your state. State laws vary, and it is wise to consult a legal counsel for any questions about creating your own will. A lawyer can help ensure the will is properly prepared and executed to distribute your estate according to your wishes.
Call Wood Law Group for Assistance With Drafting Your Will
Anyone can draft a will, but having a lawyer review it can help ensure it will hold up in probate court. The probate process relies on a legally sound will to contain important financial, medical, and sometimes landowner information.
Therefore, creating a legal will is of utmost importance. A Nevada probate lawyer will ensure that your will is valid and that all your assets, liabilities, and beneficiaries are properly handled. Wood Law Group has over 40 years of legal experience in estate planning and can create a customized will that meets your wishes.
We understand the complexities of estate planning and can help you draft your will by Nevada law. Our team of knowledgeable and experienced attorneys can assure you that your will is legally sound, valid, and up-to-date. Let us help you take the steps necessary to protect your assets and preserve your legacy.
Contact us today for a free consultation to start creating a will that meets your needs and the needs of your heirs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are You Legally Required to Have a Will?
No. You are not legally required to have a will. However, most people aren’t comfortable leaving the state of their assets and the guardianship of their children to chance.
Can I Make Changes to the Will?
Yes. You can make changes to your will. At any time during your lifetime, you can amend or make changes to your will for:
A life change, such as having a child
A change in circumstances, such as moving to a new state, or
An unexpected event, such as the beneficiary’s death
Is a Handwritten Will Legal in Nevada?
Yes. A handwritten will (also known as a holographic will) is legal in Nevada if it meets certain requirements.
To be considered valid, the will must be entirely in the testator’s (the person creating the will) own handwriting, signed by the testator. It must clearly express the testator’s intent to dispose of their property upon death.
It’s important to note that a handwritten will may be subject to more scrutiny than a formal typed will and may be more susceptible to challenges from potential heirs or beneficiaries who may question the authenticity or validity of the document.
Therefore, it’s generally recommended to create a formal typed will with the assistance of an experienced attorney to ensure that your wishes are properly documented and executed.