(WKBN) - Having a will can make passing along assets after you pass away go much smoother. There was no legal will surrounding the Golden Dawn restaurant and it led to a family disagreement. Here's what you need to know about setting up a will and what you should consider.
A will is a legal document leaving instructions on what should happen to your things after you die.
"Wills are very important because they speak for a person who is deceased, in place of that person," Atty. John Grundy said.
When there's a will, an executor simply oversees your requests. Without a will, an administrator is in control.
"I think most people believe if they die without a will, their spouse will be the sole beneficiary. That is absolutely not true," Grundy said.
Wills have to contain certain things and be signed in the presence of two witnesses, otherwise, it's not valid.
Lawyers recommend everyone have a will.
"Younger people who have minor children should absolutely have a will so that they can name a person to be guardian of minor children if the natural parents both die," Grundy said.
Wills are beneficial whether you think you have assets or not. They go beyond just passing along heirlooms, jewelry and special family items.
While making a list, be specific and be ready to name the people who will inherit what you have.
"Failure to define the term 'children' can be an issue. Maybe stepchildren are intended to be included but under Ohio law, the word 'children' does not include stepchildren," Grundy said.
It's important to talk to your spouse and children before putting your last wishes in writing.
Because wills become binding, creating one should not be considered a one-time event.
"It's something that should be reviewed periodically because things in life change and as they do, it's likely the will may have to change with those things," Grundy said.
Your will doesn't need to include funeral instructions since that usually takes place long before a will is read.
Grundy recommends having four essential estate planning documents:
- A will
- A living will in case you go on life support or something similar
- A healthcare power of attorney to describe treatment in case you can't
- A durable power of attorney to make other decisions in case you're incapacitated