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Need a Will? What You Need To Know to Write Your Will

Do you need a will? Find out if you need one, then get tips for writing your will.

Did you know…not everyone will need a will? If you have no relatives and don’t care if the state gets everything you own, you may not need a will. Or, if you have no assets or possessions or you’re okay with your closest relative (such as a parent or a sibling) inheriting everything you own, then you may not need a will in that situation, either. Even so, beware: states vary in how things are divvied up once you pass away.

That’s why taking the time to write a will is important if you want control over what happens to your assets, property and possessions. We offer a do-it-yourself will kit for Washington State that makes it super easy to write down your wishes. But before we get to that, let’s look at some of the basics.

What a Will Does and Doesn’t Cover

A will is a legal document that explains your wishes for distributing your property and assets. Some things aren’t established in a will, though. For instance, according to EstatePlanning.com, a service provided by The WealthCounsel Companies, if you name a beneficiary on your life insurance polity or retirement accounts, a will is not needed for that beneficiary to inherit the asset. But that also means you can’t name someone else to inherit this asset in your will, either.

Requirements for Creating a Will

You’ll need to be legally capable of creating a will, which is why witnesses are required (see below). You must also be 18 years of age or older to make a will. Once you create a will, you need to store it somewhere. If you want your loved ones to find your will, make sure to tell someone where to find it upon your death. If no one can find your will, the state will determine who inherits your property.

 Decide Who Inherits What

Decide who inherits your assets, property and possessions. Don’t forget digital assets. When filling out a will, use the recipient’s whole name, rather than identifying them as your wife or child, as this helps eliminate confusion, says Megan Leonhardt in an article written for Money magazine. She also recommends being very specific about assets, such as providing the address for property or writing down precise descriptions of personal property you plan to leave in your will.

RELATED: Click here to read our blog post about 5 things you need to know about digital assets.

 

Witnesses Required

According to a blog post by Redmond-based Pacific Northwest Law Group (PNWLG), your will must be signed in the presence of two or more witnesses. Otherwise, the will may not be valid. Holographic wills, which are written by hand and do not have witnesses), are not valid in Washington state, says PNWLG. But PNWLG says that if a holographic will was created in a state in which they’re allowed, then Washington state honors the will.

Why worry what will really happen when you can instantly download our do-it-yourself will kit, fill it in, get it witnessed by two people and you’re done? If you have questions or want to divvy up your assets in a way that requires more detailed planning, check out our lawyer referral listings.

Click here to buy an instant download of our DIY Will Kit. If you prefer, you can order a print copy, and we’ll mail the kit to you.

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page.

 

Lawyer Fees: How Much Will Representation Cost?

Lawyer fees vary from firm to firm.

Before you hire an attorney, find out how much the lawyer fees will be. Knowing what you’ll pay can help you plan and budget for the work to be done. Attorney fees and payment arrangements vary from firm to firm, so there’s no set standard.

Ask them to put their fee schedule in writing and find out how they want to be paid. To give you an idea of what to expect, here’s the types of payment arrangements many of the law firms we work with make with their clients.

Hourly Rates

Law firms with set hourly rates charge you by the hour for work done on your case. The lawyer fees may be provided as two different hourly rates: one for work done in the office and another rate for courtroom time. Ask the attorney if the hourly rate includes everything, such as research, court fees and copying. If not, request a breakdown of fees charged beyond the hourly rate. Before you agree to work with the attorney, ask for an estimate on how many hours he estimates your case will take.

Contingency

Some lawyer fees are done on a contingency basis. An attorney who agrees to work on a contingency basis does so without being paid until your case is resolved. Personal injury cases are commonly handled on contingency. Contingency fees can be negotiated, so find out whether she feels the case will be quickly settled or not. A smaller contingency fee may be negotiated if the case requires less work and is settled out of court compared to a lengthy case that goes to trial.

You and your attorney will agree on a percentage as the contingency fee before any work is started. Also ask about other fees you will need to pay for, such as court fees, copying documents and expert witnesses.

Related: Click here to see a list of Accidents & Injuries attorneys in Washington.

Flat Fee

Some attorneys charge by the project, resulting in a flat fee. For instance, they may charge a certain amount to write a will while charging a different flat fee to prepare divorce documents. Ask the attorney if the flat fee covers everything. If not, request a breakdown of fees for any additional costs, such as filing fees and copying, etc.

Related: Click here to see a list of Estate Planning attorneys who write wills, trusts, etc., in Washington.

Retainer

Your attorney may ask you to make a payment up front before work starts on your case. This is known as a retainer, and it’s similar to a deposit. The attorney will then send a billing statement each month with details on how your retainer is being spent.