Whether you have dependents or are just getting older, then you should really consider writing a will. However, the process is not quite as simple as writing down your wishes on a piece of paper. To help you understand how the process of creating a will works, here is a brief overview of the subject:
What is a will really?
The popular perception is that a will is just a piece of paper that explains how the estate of someone will be distributed upon their death. While this is generally true, the legal definition of a will is a little more precise. A will is pretty ineffective until it has been given something known as probate.
What is probate?
Once an individual dies, their will is not immediately executed. First it must be judged by a court in a process known as probate. If the will is found to be valid by the court, then probate will be granted and the will may be executed.
In some cases, wills are found to be illegitimate for one reason or another. Perhaps the will was written while in an unsound state of mind or perhaps part or all of the will was forged. In these cases (and others), the will may not be granted probate or may be contested. In some cases, the court will hear claims from both sides and the executor may determine which interest most closely aligns with the intent of the deceased.
Do you need a lawyer to write a will?
A will may be created without the help of a lawyer, but it is recommended that you at least consult a lawyer during the process. If you write a will without the aid of a lawyer, then you may accidentally use imprecise or incorrect language. This might result in your estate being distributed in a manner that goes against your wishes or may result in the government taking a cut. In other cases, the will not be signed correctly, which means that it won't be executed. It is fairly easy to contest wills that were created improperly.
A lawyer can also help you protect your will until you die. If your will is written on a piece of paper that you keep somewhere in your house, then it might get lost or it simply might never be found after you die. By using a lawyer, you ensure that your will can be executed. Contact a company like Wilson Deege Despotovich Riemenschneider & Rittgers for more information.