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When and why should I get a Will?

When you start your estate planning the first piece should be a last will and testament. Who should have a Will? If you are single and have mostly debt and little assets to your name it’s probably not needed. If you are single and you have some assets you probably want one to ensure those assets end up with the right people if you pass. The importance for a will increases once you have purchased a house, gotten married, started your first equity assets such as a 401k (or IRA) or had children. If you were to pass away you want your assets properly handed out to the ones you want to have them or even more important to the ones that need them! The expenses of probate court are prohibitive and having a will lower the chance your estate will end up in probate court.

State laws handle most estate issues, in fact, in Utah it is Title 75, Chapter 2 that handles these laws. Legal requirements for a will requires the will to be in writing, signed by the testator and witnessed by two people who saw the signature of the will. A signature of a self-proving affidavit is considered the same as being attached to the will. Still, it is probably much easier just to get the will notarized. Most states require witnesses to be at least 18 years of age. In your own best interest even though Utah allows a will to be witnessed by an interested party you should find an uninterested party to witness it.

If you are married it is important to have a will because you want to ensure your spouse will properly inherit your assets More than likely your spouse would inherit your assets when you pass without a will due to Intestate Successions Laws. Dying without a will put you under your state’s intestate succession laws. Intestate Succession Laws in Utah require that your spouse inherits the first 75,000 of your intestate property plus 1/2 the balance, of course, this is only relevant if there are children from a prior marriage. Of course, if your spouse should pass your children are next in line to inherit your estate. For further Utah Intestate Succession questions check out Title 75 Chapter 2 Part 1.

Picking an executor (personal representative) for your will can be hard. It should be someone you know that properly distribute your assets to your heirs. You should pick someone who will still be alive so think younger and trustworthy. Also, it should be someone who is disinterested in inheriting any of your assets but it does not have to be. It is best you decide the executor or the executor could become court-appointed. Your executor should also have a backup if he is unable or unwilling to fulfill the duties at the time needed.

The most important reason to have a will is to assign a guardian for your children. Next to dispursing assets to heirs, this is the most important reason to get a will. Finding an appropriate guardian is a difficult process. It goes without saying it should be someone you trust with your children until they are adults. Sometimes the person you have to manage your assets at your passing will not be the same as the guardian. Ensure both guardians, executor and asset manager can work together.

Remember to leave your will with someone you can trust to have it turned over to your executor. Or better yet give the executor a scanned copy of the will. You might even want the executor of the will to have a listing of assets that are not mentioned in the will. You may destroy a will if you find it no longer meets your requirements for asset dispersal of your estate. Another alternative is to make a new will and state that all old ones are revoked. Ensure that this new copy gets turned over to people who are responsible.

How should you get your will made? Well without saying we create wills. There are also various software programs that exist also. Of course, it should go without mention if you have a large or complicated estate an attorney should be your best bet.

If you don’t have a will you should think about contacting us for one. Not only do we prepare it but we notarize it for you also. It’s free if you sit down to do further estate planning with a life insurance quote with us. Life Insurance and a Last Will and Testament are a good starting combination to ensure your estate is a lasting one. Check out this article on why bad credit can affect your life insurance premiums.

*This article is not meant to replace legal advice from an attorney. If you feel your estate issues are more complicated we advise consulting one.