What Is a Will Attorney?

Will Attorney

Are you interested in preparing a will to provide instructions on how your assets should be distributed when you pass away? You may need or want to hire a will attorney to assist with the process. Learn more about wills and working with a will attorney below.

A will attorney is a legal professional who handles wills, will documents and related issues. A will is a document that codifies instructions for how you want your assets to be distributed following your death. It may also include other instructions related to your passing and estate management. To be enforceable, a will needs to meet certain criteria. Therefore, one of the key roles of a will attorney is to ensure that an individual’s will is valid in the relevant jurisdiction.

Situations That Require a Will Attorney

It is not always necessary to hire an attorney to help create a simple will. However, there are many situations in which hiring one is nonetheless advisable. The following are a few examples:

You Need Advice on Handling Your Assets

Do you have significant and/or complex assets? You may want to hire a will attorney to provide advice on how best to manage and distribute them. A will attorney can help you to understand valuable mechanisms such as trusts.

The more you want to do with your will, the more valuable it is to have an experienced professional advising you. With an attorney, you can focus on the results you want to achieve without needing to determine all of the mechanisms yourself.

You Want To Accelerate Probate

The probate process involves proving your will in a court of law. Essentially, this means that the will is determined to be valid and all interested parties (family members, creditors and other claimants) have an opportunity to make their claims. It also involves settling any disputes that may arise.

Having a will prepared by an attorney can help to avoid unnecessary disputes or delays during the probate process. This can mean that your heir(s) receive your assets sooner. An attorney can write a will that is less likely to be successfully contested.

You Will Need To Pay Estate Taxes

The vast majority of estates do not involve federal taxes. In 2020, only estates valued at more than $11.58 million are liable for the federal tax. This is around 2,000 estates per year. However, many states have a much lower threshold to meet. So, many more people need to consider whether there will be state estate taxes when they pass.

If you believe you will be liable for estate taxes, especially the federal tax, hiring a will attorney is a good idea. With the right mechanisms, you can minimize the tax liability of your estate. Plus, you can ensure that your heir(s) will not have to deal with a complex tax situation.

You Want To Disinherit Someone

In many cases, you can choose who will inherit from you and who won’t. However, some people, particularly your surviving spouse and your children, may have special privileges depending on where you live.

If you want to disinherit someone, it can help to consult with an attorney. He or she can explain the rights of the individual in question and help you to make the appropriate amendments to your will.

You Need Representation in a Dispute

Unfortunately, probate can get complicated. If you are an heir or claimant for someone else’s estate, you may find yourself in a dispute during the probate process. In many cases, it is essential to have legal representation during such a dispute.

Some issues may seem very cut and dry. However, if the will is being contested, you will be glad to have a will attorney representing your interests.

The Process of Creating a Will

Creating a basic will is a reasonably simple process. These are the major steps:

Create the Document

Start with the basics of the document. This must include details such as your legal name and a declaration that you are of sound mind and that the document is your last will and testament. There are different requirements for the document depending on the jurisdiction.

Select an Executor

The executor of your will manages the distribution of your assets when you pass away. They are bound by your will (assuming it is valid) but does a lot of the legwork and helps ensure that it is executed according to your desires. It may make sense to select your attorney or financial advisor as your executor. However, many people choose a family member or friend.

Choose a Guardian

If you have dependent children, you need to designate a guardian. The court can appoint someone. However, it is a good idea to have a plan in place before your passing.

Identify the Beneficiaries

State in your will who are the beneficiaries of your estate. This can be one person or multiple. If you have a surviving spouse or children, they may have some special privileges that require them to be included as beneficiaries.

Explain the Asset Distribution

Describe how you want your assets to be distributed between your beneficiaries. Certain assets, particularly life insurance and similar items, may have their own designated beneficiary outside of your will.

Sign With Witnesses

Finally, you will sign and date your will in front of witnesses. In many cases, the witnesses should also sign and date the will.

As with many legal documents, the details are where things can get more complicated. While this basic process is generally easy to follow, it can become confusing if you have specific state requirements or a complex will.

Work With an Experienced Will Attorney

Preparing for your eventual death is an essential element of planning for your and your family’s future. In some cases, you need an experienced will attorney to help you prepare the document and create your plan. If you need or want help, contact a will attorney today.

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