Planning Your Will: Our Complete Checklist
Senior couple signing will documents. Elderly caucasian man and woman sitting at home and signing some paperwork, focus on hands.

For those near death or simply wanting to protect against the unexpected, a will is a great tool to ensure what you leave behind goes to the proper people. If you have assets and a family to look after, a will can be a good idea regardless of age. 

Since most people would rather not think about death, they aren’t sure how the process works or how to best divide their assets. In this blog, we’ll discuss Texas and New Mexico will law, as well as helpful tips for crafting your will. 

Last Will and Testament: The Basics

As we said before, a will basically helps you plan for your family after you’re gone. A will allows you to:

  • Designate someone who ensures your will is carried out
  • Name a guardian for your minor children
  • Name someone to manage a property
  • Leave property to designated people or entities

Texas and New Mexico make the process relatively easy, allowing people to create their will themselves. However, some people should consult a lawyer if there special or complex circumstances. A lawyer can help you disinherit a spouse, for example, or help divide complex entities like businesses. 

In both Texas and New Mexico, failure to create a will before death will institute state intestacy law. Intestacy law prioritizes your closest relatives first, then moves down. If you don’t have any relatives at all, the state will claim your property. 

Tips For Setting Up Your Will

Even though the will process is relatively straightforward, there are still some tips you can use to ensure your will covers all the bases and is airtight. 

1) Choose A Responsible Executor

The executor (or personal representative) is going to be the one handling all of the affairs laid out in your will. Since this is such important work, it’s important that that person is trustworthy and reliable. If the person you choose isn’t great at getting things done, then it’s best to choose someone who will. 

2) Choose A Backup Executor

For the vast majority of wills, a backup executor won’t be necessary. However, if you want to be prepared for the worst, list a backup executor. 

Many wills have the spouse as the executor, but a bad car accident, plane crash, or other tragedy could mean both the will holder and executor pass away. In that event, the backup can make sure that the assets held by the will holder are passed on. 

3) Keep Your Will Secure But Accessible

Your will is an important document, so having it in a secure place can ensure your estate is settled as planned. Keep it in a place that your executor can access, like a safe that the executor has the code/key to. 

Our firm can also hold on to copies of the will, in the event that something happens to your original. The original is very important to have the process proceed smoothly, though, so keep it as safe as possible. 

4) Appoint Guardians Wisely

If you may leave minor children behind, having trusted guardians listed to take care of those children is incredibly important. Especially if you and your partner are unmarried, since the children may not automatically fall under the care of the other partner. 

Make sure that both partners have the other listed as a guardian to save any confusion if the will has to be used. 

5) Contesting Wills

People usually won’t contest a will, but certain situations may make the likelihood of someone contesting it higher. If there were issues with the creation of the will, or family members don’t agree with the way the estate was dispersed, there may be a contest. 

Specific reasons why wills are contested:

  • Coercion/fraud is suspected
  • The will holder wasn’t competent at signing
  • No witness was present 
  • Will terms violate probate laws

Whatever the reason, it is expressed to the probate judge who makes the final decision on the matter. To prevent your will from being contested, work with an experienced lawyer that ensures every part of your will is carried out properly. 

6) Start The Dialogue

Perhaps the most important tip we can give to those thinking about their will is to have the talk with family and friends. It may be uncomfortable at first, but having an open dialogue about life after you is important. 

Let those in your will know what they will receive and why, and express any intentions well ahead of time so there is no confusion. Another huge component of carrying out a will is for everyone to be on the same page. Confusion may just exacerbate the pain of the will creator passing. 

Let J Martinez Help Craft Your Will

Ready to plan your estate for the future? J Martinez Law can help. Contact us today to get started on crafting your will!