Most people know about wills and their basic purpose – to ensure that one’s hard earned assets go to the right beneficiaries upon an individual’s passing. However, wills can do so much more than simply dictate who inherits what. For examples, a properly drafted will can:
- Better outline who gets what, but also, plan and address unintended beneficiaries. The most common purpose for a will is to name which individual, or group, will receive specific, or general categories, of your property. The binding nature of the Will can alleviate later family strife. But, if a named beneficiary passes before you, or has a disability where an inheritance could disrupt that beneficiary’s government benefits, then, a Will can also address alternate and successor beneficiaries.
- Name guardians for children. If you have minor children, your Will should dictate whom would be entrusted with raising your children, if happens to the natural parents. The will also usually contains at least one alternate in the event the first choice cannot serve.
- Establish trusts. In many cases, a person may not want a child or loved one to receive all of the property that they inherit at once. Or, a person may want the beneficiary to use certain property for a while, and then for that property to pass on to someone else. Trusts can provide remedies for these situations. For example, a trust established for children allows a trustee to manage the children’s money until they reach a certain age, when their parents believe the children can manage it. In second marriage situations, a person may want to allow a spouse to have access to certain property while the spouse is living, but for that property to ultimately pass to the decedent’s children. Trusts can also help accomplish that goal.
- List funeral wishes. A will can state whether an individual wants to be buried or cremated, specify those process, and outline other funeral wishes.
- Naming executors and trustees. A will usually states who will be the executor of an estate. The executor, if necessary, handles certain processes of the succession and insures the testator’s wishes are met. The will also names the trustee of any trusts established by the will. A trustee is the person cast with the responsibility to carry out the instructions of the trust.
While wills can serve as powerful estate planning tools, they are only effective when properly drafted to suit the needs of each individual and to comply with all formal requirements. Our firm will review all your options with you and establish a will in a manner that ensures your wishes will be honored.