Do You Need A Will?
The answer is probably yes. The most common situation where creating a will may not be necessary is that of a married couple, without children, with limited assets, who are content to leave whatever they have to each other. In that case, all of the couples’ assets should be held in joint tenancy or with each other named as the beneficiary of the asset. At the death of the first person, all of the couples’ assets will be transferred to the surviving spouse. The problem occurs, however, when the surviving spouse dies and there is no will to direct how the assets should be distributed.
What Does A Will Provide?
A will provides a previously thought out plan that determines how and to whom the decedent’s assets will be distributed. The will allows a person to set up a unique plan that reflects his or her wishes and thoughts. Such a directive provides much needed guidance at a very difficult time. A will can also include a health care directive.
When Is A Will Most Needed?
There are certain situations where having a will is essential. When a person has minor children, a will should be completed. While the likelihood of a younger person dying is small, if it happens and no estate plan is in effect, the consequences can be disastrous.
What Is A Trust?
A will also allows a person to choose the individual who will serve as guardian for any children who are minors. A trust within the will can provide a means to manage the children’s assets until they are old enough to do it on their own. A trust can also be used as an incentive for surviving children to obtain post-secondary education. Securing a will provides you the opportunity to choose a trust plan that suits your desires and determine the trustee and the person who will administer the provisions of your will. Remember, if there is no will, these decisions will be made according the state law.
Should A Person Draft His or Her Own Will?
As with most tasks, you can choose a do-it-yourself approach, but when it comes to writing wills, it usually is not a good idea. There are numerous issues that need to be considered, including the following:
- To be valid a will must be executed according to state statutes;
- Any assets held in joint tenancy may affect the will’s provisions;
- Beneficiaries of life insurance or retirement plans must be properly designated to fit with your overall estate plan;
- There are tax consequences of the estate planning;
- The need for future medical assistance;
- Trusts must be set up properly to accomplish the desired outcome upon your death;
- Duties of the personal representative, the trustee, and the guardian need to be outlined.
Paul Livgard has been doing estate planning and drafting wills and trusts for more than twenty years. He will guide you through the process, answer your questions, explain your options and ensure that the document that is drafted so that it will carry out your wishes, health care directives, trusts and other affairs in a systematic and planned manner.