How can I make sure my estate plans are set?

A will is an essential part of any estate plan. Designating your assets to your chosen beneficiaries can help minimize contention between your loved ones after you pass. Thorough estate planning can also factor into bringing your wishes to fruition.

Your family may understand how you want your property distributed and act accordingly. But realistically, without a valid will, a delayed inheritance distribution is possible. The probate process could also minimize the amount of money beneficiaries receive.

Factors that influence validity

A will must meet specific criteria to influence legal decisions on your behalf. Some considerations for drafting a lawful document include:

  • Age. Tennessee laws consider you to be an adult once you turn 18. From then on out, you have the right to make legal choices for yourself, including those in a will.
  • Testamentary capacity. The individual drafting a will (commonly referred to as “the testator”) must be of sound mind. Essentially, you must understand the document’s purpose, have a general grasp of your assets and comprehend those to whom you’re leaving an inheritance.
  • Witnesses. As is typically the case with legal documents, you must sign your will to make it valid. Two individuals that you did not designate as benefactors must witness your signature and include theirs as well.

You must also act of your own free will drafting your will. Any coercion, intimidation or undue influence may leave room for an individual to contest your will once you’re gone.

No matter your age or income tax bracket, you have the right – some may say responsibility – to specify your wishes. When it comes to taking care of your loved ones once you’re gone, you probably agree it’s worth the extra effort to do things correctly.