There is nothing fun or exciting about writing out your will, but it must must be done. This is the best way to ensure that the beneficiaries you choose get what you want them to have. An estate attorney is a good source to fill you in on the technical details of writing a will, but there are a few basic things you should know before you begin.
Giving To A Spouse
Before making your will, keep in mind that joint wills can create legal problems for the surviving spouse, so you and your spouse should draw up separate wills. What your spouse does or does not get when you die can depend on where you live.
In the 9 community property states, you and your spouse each own half of your martial property. The only way around this is drawing a prenuptial agreement to the contrary before tying the knot. You must state in your will whether you want your spouse to inherit your half after you die.
Separate property states do have laws that prevent one spouse from disinheriting the other. According to these laws, when you die, your spouse is entitled to a minimum share of your estate, known as the elective share. The calculations for this share can vary by state, but most spouses get a fixed percentage of their spouses estate after he or she dies. Some calculations include only property in the deceased's will, while others may include everything the spouse owned.
Giving To Your Children
Married couples who have children must think about how their family will survive after their death. To help with financial needs of your family after you die, your family will get what is known as a family allowance while the estate is in probate. This is just an advance on what your family will receive after the probate process is complete. Each state has different methods of calculating the allowance, so this is something you need to discuss with your estate lawyer.
When leaving money or property worth a certain amount to your minor children, you must name a person in your will to do be legally responsible for managing the property until the child turns 18 or 21, depending on your state. This person is known as a property guardian.
Giving property to others may or may not be as complicated, but discussing the matter with an estate attorney, such as Price & Associates, can help. You can also decide what amount you must leave your spouse based on your state laws.