“My father-in-law went to Hawaii for the first time in his life this month. Right before he left he decided he really needed a will written up – I guess he was getting a little nervous about the flight.
He got a template for a will off the internet and filled in the blanks, signed it, and gave each of his children a copy.
My sister-in-law used to work for a lawyer who created wills and trusts for people. I was talking to her about the document my father-in-law gave us. She said that although it was a legal document, there were some potential problems just filling out a form in this way.
Each state has different laws that make a will valid or not. Some states require it to be signed by two witnesses who are not beneficiaries, others require it to be notarized, etc.
She let me know that even if you have a valid will, your dependents will still have to go to probate court. If someone disagrees with the will, it can get complicated. She knows of one family who has been fighting in probate court for a long time.
She said setting up a trust will circumvent the requirement to go to probate court. That usually makes the process go much smoother with less contention among beneficiaries.
That is what she suggested is the best solution when writing up your final will. Setting up a trust is usually done through a lawyer. This does cost money to do but since it will save your children the hassle of having to go to the probate court, it is probably worth it.
Luckily, my father-in-law survived his trip to Hawaii and is back safe and sound. And the will he created is better than having nothing at all. But my sister-in-law will encourage him to take the extra step and create trust as well.
So Challenge #28 is to create a valid will by checking your local laws and ensuring that you follow the necessary requirements.
Bonus challenge – look into creating a trust if you feel it would be advantageous to your situation.
Hopefully, you won’t have to use these documents for a very long time, but it’s always good to be prepared “you never know when you may get the urge to fly to Hawaii!”