Arkansas Wills Attorneys Assisting Clients in Conway and Surrounding Areas
One of the most important documents any adult should have prepared is a will. In it, you can designate who will take care of your affairs after you die (the executor), who will inherit your assets (beneficiaries), and who will take care of your children if both of their parents are unable to (guardianship). Without a will, you have no control over any of these decisions. Instead, a probate court will name an executor, beneficiaries, and a guardian. You don’t want to leave these important decisions up to strangers. Call Dudeck Law Firm today at 501-327-3527 to get started drafting a will to be sure that your wishes are followed after you die.
Why Is It Important To Have a Will?
Having a will in place before you pass away can make things much more simple and less costly for your loved ones. Dying without a will means that your estate must go through the probate process. In this process, a judge will name an executor and distribute your assets to people based on a set framework. Who gets what depends on whether you are married and for how long, whether you have children, and whether you have siblings. Say, for example, that you have no children and were divorced or widowed. You remarried two years before your death and want your whole estate to go to your spouse. In Arkansas, if you did not have a will, your surviving spouse of fewer than three years would only be entitled to half of your estate, and the other half would go to your parents, siblings, or other relatives. Imagine another scenario in which you have been remarried for more than three years to a person your children despise. Without a will, the surviving spouse would be entitled to a third of your estate, whether you intended them to have it or not, which may cause conflict with your children, and, possibly, end in a contentious lawsuit.
There are several important reasons to have a valid will, but reducing the stress and conflict that might arise among your family members is a big one. They may not be happy with what you decide to put in your will, but at least they will know with certainty what your wishes are.
If your children are not of age, having a will to name a guardian is imperative. You want to know that if something should happen to both parents, your children will be raised by a person whom you trust and who shares your values.
Dying without a will takes away any control you might have over who receives an inheritance and who will raise your children. It can cause strife and extra costs for your loved ones and can end up in a conflict that may permanently damage relationships.
How Do I Choose My Executor?
There are several factors to consider when choosing the executor of your estate. This can be a stressful process, as you may feel obligated to name a person you are not comfortable with or who does not have the necessary skills or ability to serve as executor. First and foremost, your executor needs to be someone you trust to conduct financial and legal business on your behalf after your death. They need to be young enough, intelligent enough, and responsible enough to see that your wishes are carried out, and all legal requirements are met. You should not choose a person older than you are, and even choosing someone your age could be risky. While early, unexpected deaths do happen, the majority of the time, people die in old age. If you have chosen an executor who is older or the same age you are, they are less likely to be in physical or mental shape to carry out their duties as executor when the time comes. Location can also matter. You wouldn’t want to choose someone living abroad, for example, who might not have the ability to travel to the U.S. to complete their duties, who might not be familiar with U.S. laws, or who might not speak English.
How Can I Direct My Executor to Carry Out My Wishes?
Anything that is not clearly spelled out in the will can be included in another document called a Letter of Intent. This is a letter that the subject of the will writes to be given to the executor. It can include special instructions for the disbursement of particular assets or property, as well as the specifics of how you might want a guardian to raise your children. While it is possible to communicate your wishes in this way, the executor retains the right to make decisions that run counter to your wishes, if necessary. For example, if you wanted an item to go to a person who has since died, the executor can make a decision as to where that item will go. If you specify a certain school for your children to attend, but the guardian moves to a different state, obviously, a different decision will have to be made. Be sure to choose an executor and a guardian whose judgment you trust. They may have to make decisions that you could not anticipate.
Do I Need to Hire A Lawyer to Prepare My Will?
The internet is full of do-it-yourself will ads. Unfortunately, printing out a generic form and filling it out can lead to errors that may render the will invalid and send your family into a complicated probate process for all your good intentions. Different states may have different requirements, and no internet form can allow for all of the specific circumstances that might affect how your will needs to be written. Call Dudeck Law Firm today at 501-327-3527 to get access to our years of professional knowledge and experience in writing wills for clients.