When most people think of estate planning, the first thing that likely comes to mind is a will. A Will is a legal document that conveys your wishes regarding the distribution of your property. If you pass away without a Will in place, your wishes may not be carried out. The person for whom a Will is drafted is known as a Testator. Wills are revocable, meaning that they can be amended throughout the Testator’s life. They only become effective upon the Testator’s death and will be enforceable in other states even if the Testator moves.
There are several reasons why an individual may need a Will. Again, the main purpose of a Will is to control who receives property and how that property is divided. Individuals who want to leave specific items to specific loved ones can do so through a Will. Individuals can also use a Will for business succession purposes by outlining how their business interests will be distributed after their death.
However, the amount of assets or the size of an estate that an individual has should not stop them from seeking out a robust estate plan. Having a Will in place will also simplify an otherwise very confusing probate process. People with minor children will also benefit from having a Will in place. Through a Will, Testators can nominate guardians for their children. Those guardians are responsible for the Testator’s children’s’ daily needs like food, clothing, health care, education, and housing. Wills are also used to nominate Executors, who are the people in charge of wrapping up a Testator’s affairs like closing bank accounts, liquidating assets, and notifying creditors. Wills also lower the potential for family drama. Family dynamics can be messy and having a Will in place can minimize potential disputes that may arise when determining the Testator’s wishes. For people who want to leave a
legacy gift to a charity or organization, a Will is a great way to support a charity or cause that they care about the most, which may otherwise not be possible if there was no estate plan in place.
Of course, even if you do have a Will in place, it is crucial that you keep that Will updated to reflect your current wishes and your current situation in life. It is important that a Will is reviewed and updated after major life events like the purchase of a significant asset, the death of a loved one who would otherwise have benefited under your Will, divorce, marriage, or even having more children through natural means, foster-care, or adoption.
Having even a simple Will in place will provide the instructions on how you want your estate to be distributed after you pass. With the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can create a simple Will or even a comprehensive estate plan to specifically address all your concerns and ensure that the proper individuals are cared for following your passing. The complexity of your estate plan ultimately depends on what assets you have and what your goals are. After all, estate plans are not one-size-fits-all documents. A truly effective estate plan can be a single document or a series of documents that work together towards achieving a common goal. Continue to follow these posts for future articles discussing these estate plan documents. Call us now for a consultation at (888) 367-8198.