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What is a Will?

Creating a will is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. It gives you peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order and that your loved ones will be taken care of according to your wishes. 

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that stipulates how you would like your property and possessions to be distributed after your death. Your will can also designate a guardian for any minor children you might have. Finally, you can name an executor for your estate to be the person in charge of distributing your estate after you pass away.

What Happens If You Don't Have a Will?

If you don't have a will, the state will determine how to distribute your assets after you pass away, which may not be in line with your wishes.

Additionally, you also lose the opportunity to name a guardian for minor children and pets. As a result, if you have minor children, the court will appoint a guardian to care for them. This person may not be who you would have chosen, and it can take months or even years for the guardianship process to be finalized.

Finally, without a will, you also lose the opportunity to name an executor of your estate, the person who will be responsible for paying your debts and distributing your assets according to your wishes.

In short, failing to create a will can have serious consequences for both you and your loved ones.

Steps to Create and Execute a Will

  1. Create a Will. The first step in creating a will is to determine what assets you have and who you would like to receive those assets. Once you have done that, you'll need to find a lawyer who specializes in wills and estate planning. They can help you draft your will and ensure that it meets all legal requirements.
  2. Sign Your Will. Once your will has been drafted, it must be signed by you and two witnesses. After your will has been signed, it should be stored in a safe place.
  3. Update Your Will. Your will should be reviewed and updated regularly as your circumstances change. For example, if you get married, divorced, or have children, you'll need to update your will accordingly. You can also revoke or cancel your will at any time by destroying the original document or executing a new will that states that the previous one is no longer valid. 

Are there Better Alternatives to a Will?

When it comes to planning for the future, many people focus on drafting a will. While a will is certainly an important tool for estate planning, it is not the only option available. In fact, there are a number of alternative ways to handle your assets and belongings after you pass away. Here are just a few of the options that you may want to consider:

  1. Trusts: A trust is a legal arrangement in which assets are held by a trustee on behalf of beneficiaries. Trusts can be used for a variety of purposes, including estate planning, asset protection, and tax minimization.
  2. Beneficiary Designations: Another way to distribute your assets is through beneficiary designations. With this approach, you designate who will receive certain assets, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, when you die.
  3. Transfer on Death (TOD) or Payable on Death (POD) Accounts: TOD or POD accounts are another type of asset that can be passed on to heirs without going through probate. With a TOD or POD account, you simply name a beneficiary who will inherit the account balance when you die.

Each of these options has its own pros and cons, so it's important to consult with an experienced attorney or financial advisor to determine which approach is right for you.

Contact an Experienced Will Attorney Today

Do you have an estate plan? A well-thought-out estate plan is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. It ensures that your wishes are carried out after you're gone, and it can also save your loved ones time and money.

We understand that creating an estate plan can be a daunting task. That's why our attorneys are here to help make the process as easy and stress-free as possible for you. We want to help you protect yourself and your family – so please don't hesitate to call us today for a free consultation.

Schedule a free consultation with Heritage Law Office today by calling 414-253-8500 or sending us a message!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the Basic Components of a Will?

A will typically includes clear instructions on how your assets and properties should be distributed, the names of the executor and guardian for any minor children, and signatures from the person creating the will and witnesses. It's essential to consult with an experienced will attorney to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

Can I Write a Will Myself, or Do I Need a Lawyer?

While it is possible to draft a will yourself, it may not meet all the legal requirements of your jurisdiction. Hiring a lawyer who has experience in wills and estate planning ensures that the will is properly drafted, complies with local laws, and truly reflects your wishes.

What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets are to be distributed after your death. A trust, on the other hand, is a legal entity that holds and manages assets for the benefit of specific individuals or entities. Trusts can offer more control and flexibility over asset distribution and may provide certain tax benefits.

What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

Dying without a will is referred to as dying intestate. In such cases, state laws will determine how your assets are distributed, which may not align with your wishes. It can also lead to delays, additional costs, and potential legal disputes among family members.

How Often Should I Update My Will?

It's advisable to review and update your will regularly or whenever there is a significant change in your life, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or a substantial change in assets. Regular updates ensure that the will reflects your current wishes and circumstances.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we serve Milwaukee County, surrounding communities, and to clients across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.