If you are like most people, your estate planning process will begin by creating a Last Will and Testament. As you move through the stages of your life, and your estate grows, you will likely incorporate additional estate planning tools and strategies into your estate plan. A basic Will, however, is a good place to start. The best way to ensure that your Will reflects your wishes with regard to your estate, and that it will withstand a challenge should someone make one, is to work closely with an experienced North Dakota estate planning attorney during the creation of your Will. To help you get your estate plan started, however, an estate planning attorney offers the following tips for creating a Will.
Do Not Go the DIY Route
Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of the internet, it only takes the average person a few minutes to find a “Do-It-Yourself” Last Will and Testament form online, along with just about any other common legal document. It may be tempting to download one of these forms and just fill in the blanks. After all, it will save you a considerable amount of time and money right? The problem is that your loved ones may spend considerably more time and money litigating your estate after you die given the frequency with which DIY Will forms include vague provisions, outdated language, and/or glaring errors or omissions. The bottom line is that going the DIY route is not in your best interest nor your loved ones.
Spend the Necessary Time Preparing
If you have a relatively modest estate you may think that there is no need to spend much time preparing to create your Will; however, you would be wrong. Whether you have a $10,000 estate or a $10 million estate, the basic concepts involved in creating a Will are the same. One of those concepts is preparation. Make a list of all your assets first. This should include both general assets, such as money in the bank, and specific items, such as the family bible. You also need a list of debts and one for beneficiaries. Take your time deciding who will receive your estate assets and make sure you account for debts that will need to be paid out of your estate assets. In addition, keep in mind that your circumstances could change overnight and the Will you have in place should be able to handle those changes. Finally, you have a very important decision to make in your Will that has nothing to do with your estate assets. Your Will is the only opportunity you will have to officially let a judge know who you would choose to be the Guardian for your minor children in the event one is ever needed.
Choose the Right Executor
Most people think that all of the decisions made when creating a Will involve the distribution of estate assets. While the majority of the decisions you will make do focus on distributing assets, one important one does not – deciding who to appoint as the Executor of your Will. People frequently make the mistake of simply appointing a spouse, family member, or friend without giving the matter any real thought. This often results in an Executor without the experience, knowledge, or skills to efficiently and effectively probate the estate. To avoid this with your estate, take the time you need to contemplate your options before deciding who to appoint.
For more information, please join us for one of our upcoming FREE seminars. If you have additional questions about creating a Last Will and Testament in North Dakota, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.