We would like to provide the answers to a few commonly asked questions about last wills.
1.) If I record my final wishes in a last will what happens after I pass away?
This is a very good question because too many people don’t think about the postmortem aspect.
The assets you intend to transfer by your last will are not privately passed around among people who are named in it after your funeral. It varies by state but in many if you have over $20,000 in assets your estate must be probated.
During this process the probate court supervises the administration of the estate. The executor or personal representative that you name in the will takes on the actual tasks involved in administering the estate.
2.) Is a will permanent? Does it expire?
The answers are yes and no. A will is permanent if you never change it or revoke it. It never expires, but you do have the right to make changes via the execution of a codicil, or you can scrap the whole thing and create a new one.
Physically destroying all copies of the old will is an option, and you can also include a clause in the new will stating that all previous wills are invalid.
3.) How about do-it-yourself estate planning, can I create my own last will?
There is no law on the books that prohibits you from creating your own will. However, there are very specific rules that must be followed, and they vary from state to state.
When you’re talking about the transfer of everything you have been able to accumulate throughout your life to those that you love the most you would probably do well to avoid do-it-yourself notions in favor of qualified legal counsel. For more on this topic, we invite you to download our free report, The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Wills and Living Trusts.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday