A last will and testament are more than just documents that let your loved ones know who gets what when you pass on. It is a legal document that carries a lot of power after you pass on. It communicates what your last wishes to your loved ones are and it may be your last chance to leave some kind of positive impression on them.
Many Americans assume they can simply scribble a note somewhere and that alone will qualify as a will. However, the reality can be a lot different.
Will Your Will be Valid?
It may not occur to you, but there is a risk of your will getting invalidated after you pass on. This has happened many times before, and quite often, it's because of mistakes made when preparing the will. There are requirements for a will to be valid that you may not be aware of such as:
The will must be signed by you and at least two witnesses who are not beneficiaries
You must have testamentary capacity, which means that you must know what effect your will has, what assets you own, be aware of the normally expected beneficiaries, etc.
Factors such as suffering from a mental illness can be used as a reason to invalidate your will.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer?
Although it may seem like preparing a will is something you can manage, it's a good idea to hire a family lawyer to guide you through the process. There are various legal requirements that a will must conform to. If it fails to conform to these requirements, it could be decided that the will is invalid. This could put the fate of your estate in a state of uncertainty, and your wishes might be ignored as a result.
Why Should You Get a Lawyer?
Apart from the obvious need to have a lawyer assisting you, there are advantages that come with expert counsel that you may not be aware of. For example, when many people leave behind property and assets, they are unaware of the immense tax burden that may come with them. These taxes can prevent your family from making the most of their inheritance.
A family lawyer can advise you on proper estate planning so you can anticipate various challenges and plan for them. This will make the process of passing the property to the beneficiaries a lot smoother.