10 Myths About Making a Will


When you spend a lifetime working and earning for your future, you need to care for the way those assets are managed and shared with your loved ones. Most adults do not even have a basic plan in place which leaves all that you have worked for subject to the state guidelines. Most often people are confused regarding estate laws. These ten myths will help clarify some basic assumptions. It is suggested you always speak with financial and legal representation when planning your estate. 

Myth #1: Only the wealthy need a will.

If you have any assets at all, you need a will, even if your estate is modest or you have few or no heirs. State laws will distribute property according to strict rules regardless of need and no provision for friends or charitable interests. 

Myth #2: State laws about wills are the same throughout the US.

Laws that govern estate settlements vary by state. That is why you should always carefully review your will with the help of an attorney in the state where you live. 

Myth #3: Once a will is made, nothing can change it except a completely new will.

A will can be updated with an amendment added to an existing will altering its provisions. A will can be changed by marriages, births, or deaths. Changes in laws can also alter the way in which your will is interpreted. 

Myth #4: A witness must be at least 21 years old. 

Anyone can be a witness who is credible and competent including children old enough o be aware of their role. Some states do impose a minimum age. The witness does not need to know what the contents of the will, only that they are witnessing a person’s will. 

Myth #5: A handwritten will that is not witnessed cannot be valid. 

In some states, wills are valid when testator’s handwriting is known by friends and associates and can be identified by them. 

Myth #6: Oral wills are never valid.

Orals wills can sometimes be valid, but only under certain conditions. For example, if a person is at end of life or in the military an active duty during a war, some states will recognize an oral will when stated before three competent witnesses, one of whom puts it in writing soon after it is made. 

Myth #7: Nonprofit organizations named as beneficiaries in wills need to be identified only by their popular, generally accepted names. 

Nonprofits should be identified by their legal and proper name and address. The use of other names or addresses can lead to confusion and ay not result in the intended charity receiving the legacy gift. 

Myth #8: A spouse always received property free of estate tax.

Only property left directly to a spouse, or for the benefit of the spouse in a properly drafted trust will qualify for a tax-free transfer. 

Myth #9: A good will rarely needs revision. 

Even the best wills may need to be changed depending on wealth. As needs of loved one’s change, or personal representatives pass away or become unable to serve. Tax laws can also change over time as can your charitable wishes. 

Myth #10: It is expensive to have an attorney draw up your will and often hard to find out just how much it will cost. 

Attorneys expect to be asked to quote fees in advance. The fee for their work and advice can be small when compared to the taxes and other expenses a well-drafted will and other plans can save your heirs.


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