Somewhat shockingly, a recent survey found that as many as 64 percent of adults here in the U.S. have not taken the altogether vital step of executing a will. This effectively means that the laws of the state in which they reside will decide how their hard-earned assets will be divided and, by extension, that the special needs of certain loved ones may not be adequately covered.
Given all of the ramifications associated with failing to execute a will, those who make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to take this vital step should be commended for bucking this otherwise unsettling trend and making the necessary plans for the future.
Experts indicate that there are a few essential points that people in this situation should nevertheless keep in mind prior to sitting down with an experienced legal professional to execute a will.
- Be realistic about the limitations of heirs: Experts indicate that people must consider whether their intended heirs have both the emotional maturity and the financial knowledge needed to manage what could prove to be a sizeable amount of money. Indeed, if the intended heirs are minors or have not shown themselves to be responsible with money, it may be necessary to consider creating a trust, which allows for asset allocation conditions.
- Choose the right executor: While it may seem like a no-brainer to appoint a parent or mutual friend to serve as an executor (i.e., personal representative), experts indicate that certain factors should nevertheless be considered. For instance, you must think about whether you are likely to outlive the prospective executor, whether he or she is up to the task, and whether they even want to take on such a major responsibility.
- Update the will as necessary: As laudable as executing a will is, experts indicate that people must understand that it is not the type of document that is simply executed and never again picked up. Indeed, it must be revisited and amended to reflect any and all changes in life from divorces and deaths to births and cash influxes.
If you have questions about creating or revisiting a will, or would like to learn more about complex estate planning, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.