Everyone knows the only truly certain aspect of life is uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any control. If you are reading this article, you are wondering how to write a will. The truth is that because a will is a legal document, the state requires several things in order to create a will. While it is possible to create one on your own, it is a good idea to seek out an attorney or law firm to help you create an estate plan. Whether you’re in your early twenties or you’re getting closer to retirement age, it’s never too early – or too late – to start considering what will happen to your belongings and estate when you’re gone.
Even if you think you don’t have that much to take care of, a last will and testament helps bring clarity and ease during a difficult time for your loved ones. Even minor things, such as who will take care of your pets when you’re gone, are far more stressful decisions if you don’t put it in writing.
How to Prepare Your Last Will and Testament
If you are determined to learn how to prepare your Last Will and Testament, you will need to gather several key pieces of information. However, please keep in mind that the following information is not meant as a substitute for legal advice. It is presented for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for an attorney. If you prepare your own Last Will and Testament or use an online form, there is no way for you to know that it will be fully compliant with Oklahoma state law. With that said, you must:
- Choose an executor who will be responsible for many actions, including distributing your assets;
- Name a guardian for your minor children;
- List out your beneficiaries and what they will receive;
- It can also be helpful to list whether you have life insurance policies as well as which companies they are with; and
- Create a proving affidavit.
6 Reasons to Hire a Lawyer to Prepare Your Last Will and Testament
While many people recently have started creating their own wills with online services or even by simply trying to type it out themselves, there are a lot of ways hiring a lawyer to prepare your will can make the process more secure and easier for you and your family.
1. Peace of Mind
The main reason that most people should consider hiring an attorney or law firm to create their last will and testament is that this is a crucial step to take, and even a small mistake can create massive headaches for your loved ones in probate court.
An attorney or law firm will make sure that the right language and pieces are in place to accomplish exactly what you want for your belongings and assets while following state law. Even if you create your own last will and testament, it’s a good idea to get legal advice once it’s finished just to make sure all of the state requirements are met. You may also find that a living trust ends up being more beneficial to meet your needs when distributing your assets than a last will and testament. As an added bonus, a living trust doesn't require a trip to probate court.
2. Appoint a Guardian for Your Minor Children
If you’re a parent, nothing is more important in learning how to prepare your last will and testament than what will happen to your children once you’re gone, especially if the unthinkable happens while they are still young. Hiring an attorney or law firm provides you with assurance knowing that this topic is not just addressed, but addressed in accordance with state law.
In these events, a last will and testament can be a lifesaver, as you can name individuals to serve as your children’s legal guardians in this legal document. This saves your loved ones from enormous legal headaches. Becoming a guardian without the recommendation of the parents can be difficult and takes a lot of time and money that otherwise could be avoided through the proper preparation of a last will and testament.
3. Distributing Your Assets
Another great reason to talk about your last will and testament with your attorney or law firm is that most people think first of real estate or large items, but miss a lot of key pieces as they try to consider everything that goes into the estate plan. After all, even if you consider yourself a minimalist, you probably have a lot of stuff.
From your clothes and shoes to heirlooms that have been in the family for decades, a lawyer will help you clarify who gets what after you're gone. This is especially important in a large family so that there are no squabbles over ownership of valuables, which only adds stress and frustration to a time of grieving.
4. Allocate Funds for Final Expenses
Most people already know this yet it isn’t something people talk about: funerals are expensive. Caskets alone can cost thousands. Then there’s the ceremony, the burial plot, and tons of other minor and major financial discussions that your loved ones will have to have, all while grieving.
Talking with a lawyer and working together can alleviate almost all of this stress because you can set aside funds to be used only for your funeral and burial services. You can also explain how you’d like to be laid to rest. Even if you don’t have a lot of extra finances, or you’d rather your family not spend as much money, you can also set boundaries about it in your will.
5. Take Care of Your Business
This doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you are the owner of a business, non-profit, or charity organization, not working with a lawyer to correctly specify how that business is treated once you’re gone can be extremely detrimental to the entity.
Up to 70 percent of family-owned businesses do not last past the first generation. This is often because of a lack of estate planning. Your lawyer can help you decide and specify which heirs and/or co-owners you’d like to receive ownership of it when it is time.
6. Make Things Easier
Above all, the biggest reason to prepare a last will and testament by working with a lawyer is that, when it comes down to it, the days after your death are going to be difficult ones for your friends, family members, and loved ones. Families are typically tasked with taking care of your estate as well as the funeral and services associated with it, all while they manage their emotions and grief.
Working alongside your lawyer makes everything easier for the whole family. They won’t have to spend hours trying to figure out who gets what; they won’t have to sit down and figure out how they can pay for your funeral services. In a way, preparing a last will and testament with your lawyer is an act of kindness, knowing how hard any death is on a family.
While it may seem morbid or just plain scary to discuss, preparing a last will and testament while you are of sound mind and healthy is a gift for your family. To get your questions answered about estate planning in Oklahoma, schedule a free consultation with Ball Morse Lowe now.