Do you remember taking a will writing class at school? No, nor do we.
Even if you did take law at some point during your education, the likelihood of you covering the contents of wills could be slim.
Yet writing a will is something that everyone will have to deal with at some point in the future. It can be an intimidating process, and often its unclear what questions to ask a lawyer who is working on your will with you.
Nobody wants to end up with a will that doesn’t guarantee what they’d hoped it would when writing it. It is possible to write a will without a lawyer, but we would advise against doing so. This is because it won’t stand up to as much scrutiny as if you’ve worked with a lawyer to create it.
These are some of the things you should make sure to mention during the will-writing process
When Should I Write My Will?
To best understand the questions to ask a lawyer when writing a will you first need to know when is best to start writing a will to begin with.
The truth is there’s never really an ideal time to start thinking about writing your will.
You should bear in mind what a will contains, and the importance of making one for your children and your current financial situation. There’s also your property to consider, and what you want to be done with it when you pass on among many other factors.
One stigma that needs to be removed is the idea that you should only write your will when you’re old. There are in fact certain situations where it would be advisable to begin writing your will at a much younger age. Depending on your specific situation, when the time is right, there are questions you need to be asking.
You should also make sure to find the right lawyer for you, before you begin discussions on your will. It’s important to know what kind of lawyer writes wills. In US law, they will be known either as a probate lawyer or an estate planning lawyer.
As well as finding the right lawyer, you need to make sure you know who your beneficiaries and executors are, and check this with your lawyer. If you’re unsure who these people should be, then this is something to question your lawyer about in your first meeting.
You will also need to ask state-specific questions that we can’t cover here due to the quantity of differing state legislation across America. Provided you meet with a lawyer in your home state, they should be well-versed in the specific legalities within your state.
Questions To Ask A Lawyer When Writing A Will
These questions, as with the timing of writing your will, will depend on the specific financial situation you are in at the time.
For example, if you are a Medicaid recipient, there would be certain questions to ask a lawyer that you wouldn’t need to ask if you weren’t a recipient related to Medicaid estate recovery.
You should first clarify whether this is a living will or a last will. The difference between these is that a last will only comes into effect following your death.
Meanwhile, a living will, or living trust, can be used to transfer property or assets to your loved ones before death. You should discuss with your lawyer as to which of these would be more advisable for your circumstances. Many people use both living wills and last wills in conjunction with one another.
You should ask your lawyer whether it would be beneficial in your circumstances to create a living trust or not. This decision will be dependent on your individual situation. If you do decide to create a living trust, you should still create your last will to ensure all your assets are covered.
A Question Of Property
What happens to your property after your death is known as estate planning, and is often one of the most important parts of will-writing given how much of an investment property is today.
There are estate-planning lawyers who are specifically trained in dealing with matters pertaining to estate.
If your main goal is to pass your property on to your loved ones, it may be advisable to seek out an estate-planning specialist. If you choose to do so, as well as essential questions relating to their experience and their fees, you should firstly confirm with them that their primary focus is on estate planning.
You should also find out whether they execute the plan themselves, or if they only draw up the will and the instructions contained within. Usually, it’s better to work with a lawyer who can also execute the plan, given that if they don’t you’ll only need to find an additional person who can put into motion the will you’ve written.
If you expect to live a lot longer after you’ve written your will, you should also enquire as to whether your lawyer conducts periodic reviews of your will. This can help those who have written a will at a younger age, as the will can be checked and updated with new assets as necessary.
Another question you need to ask your lawyer is how they will be contactable to you if you have any further questions after your meeting. These legal meetings can be a stressful time, and as prepared as you are people can forget to ask certain questions. This is why its vital to know how you can contact your lawyer outside of a meeting.
Finally, you should ask your lawyer how they expect your will could be challenged, and work to prevent as many possible contentions as possible before signing off on the will.
If You’re Still Unsure
If you’re still concerned about your will-writing, questions to ask a lawyer or how to find the right lawyer for you, then you can use the Halt Law Directory.
Halt has an entire category dedicated to estate planning lawyers, so you know you can contact people who are specialists in the field. For further tips on choosing a lawyer please look through some of our other blog posts.
Will-writing can be a surreal process, but there are places you can contact and questions you can ask to ensure you get the most out of the experience.
Interested in more tips? Check out more of our blog.