Why Have a Will?
Making plans for asset transfers after a person dies is not high on many people’s lists of fun things to do. However, everyone over the age of 18 should have a will to detail how they want to distribute their possessions after they die. People should understand who needs a will, the contents of a will and the benefits of having a will.
Who Needs a Will?
All adults need wills. However, having a will can be even more important for those who:
• Are married
• Have been divorced
• Have children
• Have partners but are not married
• Own a business
• Wish to give money to charity or other organizations
When a person dies without a will, the state’s intestacy laws dictate how to distribute the person’s assets. In many cases, the person’s legal next-of-kin becomes a person’s heir and receives all of the person’s assets.
However, some may want others to receive their property and the only way to ensure that happens is to record those intentions in a will. The benefit of having a will is that a person gets to control how his or her assets are distributed, not the state. A person can make sure that those who are important to him or her receive the things a person wants them to have.
What Goes Into a Will?
Not everyone has the exact same provisions in their wills. However, some of the more common parts of wills include:
• Instructions for payment of funeral expenses and debts
• Distribution of personal property such as vehicles, money, furniture, art and jewelry
• Distribution of real estate such as family homes, vacation homes or cabins and farmland
• A residuary clause naming the recipients for the rest of the assets not specifically listed in the will
• A trust clause, either establishing a testamentary trust or putting funds from the estate into a trust the testator established during life
• The name of a person to serve as an executor and an alternate person in case the first choice is unable or unwilling to act as an executor
Seek Legal Assistance
Drafting a will does not have to be a monumental chore. If you do not have a will or have not updated your will in some time, talk to a qualified estate planning attorney who can help create a will as part of a comprehensive estate plan.