A Will, properly drafted, allows you to control the transfer of your assets to desired individuals or organizations upon your death. You must be over the age of eighteen (18) and must be of sound mind to create a Will.
Important features of a Will include being able to appoint a personal representative for your estate, designate beneficiaries, and attach conditions to a bequest. If you have minor children, a Will is an important document for naming guardians for those children. You may also nominate a guardian for you in the event of your incapacity. A Will may also be used to create a Testamentary Trust for minors or others in the Will. You may amend or revoke a Will at anytime while you are competent to do so.
A common misconception about Wills is that a Will does not require probate. Probate is a court process precisely for proving the Will, appointing the personal representative, and giving the personal representative the authority to act on behalf of the estate. In other words, a Will must be probated if your assets meet the statutory limits.
To avoid probate, you should use a Revocable Living Trust for your primary estate planning vehicle. However, even if you have a Revocable Living Trust, you still need a Will. A short, simple “Pourover Will” is used to transfer any remaining property to the Revocable Living Trust, which was not transferred to the Trust during your lifetime.
In the event you die without a Will, you die “intestate.” Your assets will pass through probate and be distributed according to the State “succession” statutes. The distribution depends upon factors such as whether you are married, have children, etc.
To avoid dying intestate and to know which estate planning vehicle is right for you, call our office for an initial consultation.