If you haven’t created a will yet, it’s never too late. As an estate planning lawyer in Warwick, RI from a firm like McCarthy Law, LLC can explain, you should always plan out what should happen to your assets after your death. Even if you think your estate is too small to matter, creating a will is an important part of ensuring your family and friends can grieve properly, without arguing or infighting over who gets what.

What Happens if I Don’t Write a Will?

You might not be to concerned about what happens to your estate after your death, but for the good of your family and friends you should consider leaving behind some form of instructions. Without a will, the state will appoint a representative to handle your estate – and that’s not always someone you want in charge. Usually this representative is a spouse or close relative, but if you have any exes or cut-off family lurking in the shadows, they might end up the appointed representative instead.

Does My Will Name Someone to Handle my Affairs?

When you work with an estate planning lawyer to create a will, you get a chance to name an executor. The executor carries out the same responsibilities as a court-appointed representative, but they’re hand-picked by you and named in your will to carry out the important next steps. Designating an executor is a great way to avoid any issues with a court-appointed representative, and since you get to pick the executor out of your trusted family and friends, you can be more confident that your estate will be in good hands.

What Does the Executor Have to Take Care Of?

Unfortunately, your assets don’t just magically appear in your beneficiaries’ bank accounts. Before your loved ones receive their shares of your estate, the estate must go through probate. Probate is a lengthy process that covers the instructions in your will, and it takes many steps. Your executor is responsible for overseeing probate, which means you and your lawyer will have to be extra certain when you name the executor in the will. They need to be someone you trust, and they need to be someone who can handle the next steps according to your wishes.

Probate starts with the authentication of your will. This means sending it to the state to ensure it meets the base legal requirements. Once your will is proven to be legitimate, your beneficiaries will need to be notified that they were named in the will. Once your beneficiaries are tracked down, the assets will need to be tracked down as well. Assets will need to be valued (which may or may not involve experts who can appraise assets) and any outstanding debts that you held before you passed away will need to be paid off. Of course, taxes and fees will need to be paid off as well.

After all of these hoops, your assets (or what’s left of them) can be divided and distributed amongst your beneficiaries according to your wishes. It’s a lengthy and complicated process, and if you haven’t planned appropriately, your family and friends may end up fighting over who gets what.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

If you want to minimize any legal headaches for your family and friends after you’ve passed away, contact an estate planning lawyer who can help you prepare a will. Your family and friends will thank you in the long run, and you can give yourself valuable peace of mind if you know your estate has been planned out with the help of a qualified legal professional. Get in touch with an attorney today to learn more.