In this new normal of living with COVID, should you consider creating a will? The answer is YES.

But it is still a difficult decision for many.

When speaking with clients about creating a will, I hear, “I don’t have any property,” or, “I’m feeling fine, I don’t need a will.” Having a will is a safe option to be sure your wishes are honored. If you have bank accounts, a car, or a house, you need a will so that you can control where those things go after you pass away. Even if you think you do not have enough assets to warrant a will today, you will likely acquire assets in the future. A will is typically for “someday” rather than “tomorrow.”

If you do not have an estate plan (a will and other documents), your state government will have one for you. That all too frequently leads to unintended, and commonly very undesirable, consequences.

If you already have a will, you should review it periodically to determine whether it needs updates. Does your will still leave everything to an ex-spouse? Is that friend you appointed as the executor still your friend, or has he moved away?

If, upon review, you determine changes are necessary, making those changes is very easy. You did the most significant part already by creating this essential document.

If you had an attorney draft your will, consider having that same attorney update the will: That attorney likely has your will in an editable format, and it should not cost you the full price again for simple changes. You’ll also have an expert to guide you and answer any questions that may arise. Provided you or your loved one still have the mental capacity to understand the changes you are making, you are free to change your will at any time and as many times as you deem appropriate.

Common changes to wills include adding or removing a beneficiary and changing the designated executor or trustee of any trust created by the will. Of course, life itself may predicate other changes to a will.

When changing or creating your will, consider these questions:

  • To whom do I want my property to go after I die?
  • What if one of my beneficiaries dies before I do?
  • If someone is going to inherit from me, what happens if they are too young and need guidance? Who will provide guidance to the child, and what does that look like?
  • Who do I trust to handle things for me after I am gone to make sure my wishes are honored?

Every state can have different requirements for valid wills. For example, if you download a form from the internet and hand-write the information into the provided blanks, you will not have a valid will under Texas requirements.

You will also need to have witnesses for the will, but those witnesses cannot receive a gift in the will. Be sure you understand what your will needs to be valid and effective. Not every will gets probated, but your family will be better off having one in an emergency.

Plan today for what you may need in the future, near or far.

Originally posted on FYI50+:

  • Peter Hall