Wills

Married Persons - Need For Wills

Many married persons have never prepared a will, although they recognize that this is something that should be done. Perhaps the rather morbid title, “LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT,” has caused them to delay taking action.

If you do not prepare a will, the state will draw one for you, and chances are very good that you will not like the provisions. The legal term for dying without a will is “intestacy,” and the distribution of your property will be based on the intestacy laws of the state in which you reside at the time of death.

In the absence of a will, the Probate Court will appoint an administrator, such as a family member or local attorney. Then after a complicated procedure, all of your assets will be distributed according to the state’s formula.

Your estate consists of personal property (furniture, jewelry, clothes, automobiles), investments (cash, savings, securities), real estate, employee benefits (group insurance, retirement or profit sharing) and other items such as the proceeds of a lawsuit against someone who accidentally caused your death.

You cannot rely on joint property title as a substitute for a will because it does not solve problems arising with the second death. Some forms of joint title do not pass entirely to the surviving spouse.

Having a will drawn can prevent family disputes, and will give you the opportunity to be certain that your property will be distributed promptly to the parties designated as beneficiaries.

Your will should designate an Executor to carry out your bequests efficiently and promptly and with less expense than if there had been no will. The will should also provide for flexibility in the administration of your estate. You may also wish to provide special bequests to non-profit organizations.

Having a will prepared will also help establish a relationship with an attorney, which could be extremely valuable in the future. Naturally, a will should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect personal changing circumstances and new tax laws.

Single Persons Need A Will

Many single persons have never prepared a will, even though they have a nagging feeling that is should be done. Perhaps the rather morbid title, “LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT,” has caused them to delay taking action.

But if you do not prepare a will, the State will draw one for you, and the chances are very good that you will not like the provisions. The legal term for dying without a will is to die “Intestate”, and the distribution of your property will be based on the Intestate Laws of the state in which you reside at the time of death.

In the absence of a will, the Probate Court will appoint an Administrator such as a family member or local attorney. After a complicated procedure, all of your assets will be distributed according to the state’s formula.

Your estate consist of personal property (furniture, jewelry, clothes, automobiles), investments (cash, savings, securities), real estate, employee benefits (group insurance, retirement or profit sharing) and other items such as the proceeds of a lawsuit against someone who accidentally caused your death.

Having a will drawn can prevent family arguments and will give you the opportunity to be certain that your property will be distributed promptly to the parties you have designated as beneficiaries.

Your will should designate an Executor to carry out your bequests efficiently and promptly and with less expense than if there had been no will in the administration of your estate. You may also wish to provide special bequests to non-profit organizations.

By having a will prepared, you will also be establishing a relationship with an attorney that could be extremely valuable to you in the future. Naturally, the will should be periodically reviewed to reflect changing circumstances, as well as changes in the tax laws.

Considerations For Making A Will

Before visiting your attorney to have a will drawn, there are questions you should ask yourself. The following are just a sample. Make a list of the answers and be sure to review them with your attorney. This will ensure that you have covered everything, save your attorney time and you money.

  • Who will be my beneficiaries?
  • What percent of my estate do I want to go to each?
  • What debts do I owe and on what terms?
    • Which assets should be sold first to pay the debts?
    • Whom do I want to have my house?
    • Do I want debts owed to me canceled at my death?
  • What kind of property will pass outside my will?
    • An insurance policy payable to a named beneficiary.
    • A U.S. Savings Bond payable to another person.
    • Other assets payable to a beneficiary.
    • Property held in joint tenancy.
  • What personal effects do I want to go to whom?
    • Should I leave everything to my spouse?
    • Should I give certain things to certain people?
    • Should my executor distribute in equal parts by value?
    • Should my executor sell everything and divide proceeds?
  • Will life insurance cover my dependents’ living expenses?
  • Will life insurance cover my estate expenses?
  • Who should be guardian of my children?
    • Successor guardian? Are they financially sound?
  • Do I want money given to a child paid back to my estate?
  • Do I want or do I need to disinherit any of my children?
  • Do I want my business sold or kept in operation?
  • Do I want to give anything to charity?
    • What is the tax advantages of doing so?
  • Do I want to set up a trust?
    • When should it pay income and how much should it provide?
    • For how long should income be continued?
    • What events should change income payments?
    • Should the trustee be able to invade the principal?
  • What do I want to be done in case of a common disaster?
  • What happens with my assets if my spouse remarries?
  • Will a relative or friend attempt to attack my will?
  • Whom should I appoint to serve as Executor?
    • As Successor Executor?
  • Whom should I appoint to serve as my Trustee?
    • As Successor Trustee?

This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized tax, legal, investment planning advice. We suggest that you discuss your tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

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