Why is it so important to have a last Will and Testament? Most adults know that if someone dies without a will, the law says who will get the assets. The law sets out the manner in which an Estate will be divided after the decedent’s debts and taxes have been paid. The law also provides that a creditor can be appointed to administer the Estate. This means that a bank could be put in charge if there is no Will in which an Executor is named.
As if that isn’t bad enough, the law also requires that an Administrator (the person or creditor in charge of the Estate) post a bond. The Estate must pay for the Administrator’s bond. Even worse is the trouble and expense of taking proper care of an inheritance for a minor child where the parent died without a Will.
There are many more undesirable consequences to a family when their loved one dies without a Will. Let’s now focus on the positive outcomes that can be achieved with a well-written Will or Trust.
- Blended Family: Husband and wife have children from previous marriages. Each spouse wants to protect his or her assets for the benefit of his or her children. A proper Will, Trust, pre-nuptial agreement (or marital agreement) and beneficiary designations can achieve the desired results.
- Disabled Child: Rather than an inheritance going directly to a disabled child without restrictions or limitations, your Will or Trust can provide for supervision and control over a disabled child’s inheritance. Special needs trusts can be arranged.
- Minor Children: If minor children are to inherit funds or property, they will get it ALL at age eighteen if you die without a Will or Trust. Think about what most 18 year olds would do with new-found cash. Not a pretty picture, is it? Protect them from youthful irresponsibility by having a Will or Trust that controls distribution of your hard-earned money.
- Out-of-Wedlock Children: It is heartbreaking to witness the struggle of an out-of-wedlock child when his or her father dies. It is much worse when he dies without a Will. The most difficult and painful situation occurs if he dies without establishing paternity and without executing a Will or Trust that provides for the child. Every responsible, caring father should have a Will or Trust that addresses the situation appropriately.
- Estranged Family Members: A proper Will or Trust can acknowledge such a family member and make whatever provision is preferred, including disinheriting that person or leaving only a small bequest. “No Contest” provisions typically come into play in a situation involving estrangement.
- Charities, Churches, etc.: Your Will or Trust can provide for charitable gifts. If you have no Will or Trust, your favorite charitable organization gets nothing from your Estate.
- Special Family Heirlooms: Your Will or Trust can clearly state who is to inherit the jewelry, Grandma’s rocking chair, military items and other special items. You should control who will get the things that are precious to you.
- Pets: We can include a “pet trust” in your Will or Trust. This will provide financial and care arrangements for your furry, feathered and finned friends..
- Real Estate: Many clients own homes that their grown children do not want. Your Will or Trust can direct the Executor or Trustee to sell the home (and other real property). The sale proceeds will pass to whomever you name in such shares as you choose. Sometimes this is a better approach than simply leaving an unwanted home to multiple children.
How Can We Help
With our experience and knowledge of estate planning, we guide you through the process of deciding upon a whether your family would benefit most from your execution of a Will or a Trust. The importance and significance of beneficiary designations on your financial holdings also will be discussed. We will explain the need for powers of attorney for financial matters and for health care decision-making. Your estate plan will be designed to address your needs and wishes, and we will assist in helping you understand exactly how everything will work in the end.