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The last thing that you want to do is leave this world without a will. Your legacy is important, and you don’t want to leave your loved ones scrambling to sort out finances and split assets without direction. Without a will, your assets will also be split up according to the laws that govern the state in which you live. You will not have a say in where they go, and they may end up not going to the person which you want to have them. The best way to avoid a headache for your family and ensure your assets go to your loved ones is to draft a proper will with a wills and estates attorney that outlines all possible aspects and accounts for your desires.
Make a plan
When you want to create a will, you need to go through your life and look at everyone that may be affected by your death and has a stake in your estate. This includes examples such as your spouse, ex-spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, and parents, though friends and other loved ones do factor in as well. These are the people who will benefit as a result of you having a properly planned out will.
Once you have taken these individuals into account, you must analyze your assets. This includes personal possessions, finances, real estate, and business ventures.
The value of all of your assets, once you have taken out all of the taxes, legal fees, and funeral expenses that come with passing away, you then have an idea of how much you will have to leave to your loved ones.
Should you put funds into a trust?
A trust is an excellent solution to help financially support minors, support charities, as well as have safeguards in place for beneficiaries. When funds are held in a trust, they are held with rules and stipulations that the person who set up the trust puts in place. For example, a cottage can be put in a trust with multiple children put on the trust as beneficiaries, but a rule can stipulate that the property cannot be sold without agreement between all parties. A trust can be a great tool to help you ensure that your loved ones are taken care of.
What about minor children?
If you have minor children, then you need a will that stipulates who will become their legal guardian in the event of your death. If you have a spouse or an ex-spouse, then they will retain custody, but if you are a single parent, then you need to include in your will who takes over as their guardian. If you do not include this, then your death can be even more turbulent for your children.
It sounds like a lot
Trying to create an Estate Plan on your own that considers everything, including the tax that your heirs may owe, is incredibly difficult. Hiring a lawyer to draft your documents and to ensure that everything is in order will take a weight off of your shoulders. Our estate planning team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd., will be happy to meet with you to discuss how to start this important process.
If the worst happens and you die without a will in place you are considered to have died "intestate." When you have a will in place then your estate, which includes your property, possessions, and other personal items, will be distributed according to the will. This is, of course, contingent on your debts being paid off as well as your funeral and burial costs. A will can be challenged in some cases and be made invalid by others, but for the most part, the instructions left in a will are followed.
When there is no will in place, your property must still be distributed. Here are the rules for which this distribution works:
As you can see, the rules for distributing an estate if the deceased does not have a will can be very complicated. It can also lead to fighting between family members and destroyed relationships.
While it may seem that death is far off and preparing for it is not a pressing matter, anything can happen at any time. Being reasonably prepared for the worst is always a smart idea, and creating a will is one of the most responsible things you can do to protect your family and legacy.
The team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd. can help you establish a legally binding will that can speak for you if the worst were to happen.
Estate planning can be a topic that some people would rather avoid. Dealing with your mortality is not something that most people want to do, but if something were to happen to you, and you did not have a will in place, then it can be a nightmare for those you leave behind. When penning your will there are a lot of things that must be considered, and you do not want to leave anything out that may slip your mind. Working with a family law attorney makes the process easy, as they have the knowledge needed to set up your will without any accidental omissions. Here are some of the most important things that you need to consider putting in your will.
Choose Your Executor
An executor is someone that you either decide upon in advance to execute your will or someone who is appointed by a court to execute your will. An executor files the will with probate; notifies the banks, credit card companies and government agencies of the death; sets up any accounts for incoming funds and pay bills; files an inventory of the estate's assets with the court; maintains property; distributes assets; disposes of other property; and represent the estate in court. You need to talk to the executor you choose if you have selected a family member, and go over these responsibilities with them. It is also a good idea to have an alternate executor, so in case the primary executor cannot perform the duties there is a backup.
If you are a parent, this is the most important reason why you need to create a will! In the will, you can name who your children will go to in the event of your death. Whether your will dictates they go to your spouse, or in the case of both of your deaths a close relative or sibling who has reached the age of majority, having this in writing is incredibly important for the lives of those you leave behind if you die. You can also choose someone to manage your children's property if you want to leave it to them when they come of age.
Your assets, such as cars, property, and even special items such as a watch or specific piece of jewelry that just have to go to a particular person, need to be properly noted in a will. You have to describe the item in detail, for instance, the make and model of a car you are leaving, and the person's name that you are leaving the item to. Not every single item that you own needs to be included in the will, but be as specific as you need to avoid contention after your death.
Store Your Will Safely
Whether you store it in a safety deposit box or keep it in a firebox at home, make sure that your will is protected and that those who need access to it can do so. This is crucial, as the last thing anyone needs is to be scrambling and searching for your will.
The best thing that you can do when you are looking to create a will is to get legal advice on how to create it so that it cannot be contested in court. The team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd. are ready to help you with estate planning. With our team you will have the security that you need and the confidence that if the worst were to happen, everything would be taken care of.
If you want to legally protect your children, spouse, and assets, and make sure your things are handled and distributed properly after you have passed away, having a will is extremely important. Although wills can get very specific in what is determined after you have passed, here are some of the more general reasons why you need to get a will as soon as possible.
Decide who will take care of your children
If you have children who are under the age of 18 and you pass away suddenly while not having a will, the court will choose who gets to take care of your children among your family or an appointed guardian. Having a will allows you to choose who you would trust to raise your children.
Properly distribute your estate
Many fights have risen after a person in their family has passed away without a will. When you don’t determine how your estate will be distributed, it is basically a free-for-all for your surviving family members. Having a will is a legally-binding contract that lets you control how your estate is distributed so everyone is aware of what they are inheriting.
Avoid an extended probate process
All estates must go through a probate process whether you have a will or not. If you have a will, the process will go a lot faster since the court will know how you want your estate divided. If you don’t have a will, it’s up to the judgement of the court to administer and distribute your estate without your consent, which may cause long delays.
Customize your will whenever you want
While you are alive, you can change your will if anything comes up like a birth, death, or divorce. You can also disinherit individuals out of your will if you need to because of a falling out with a beneficiary or family member. If you don’t have a will, your estate could find its way into the hands of somebody you don’t want to have it.
Lower estate taxes
Having a will allows you to minimize your estate taxes and the value of what is distributed from your estate, whether to family members or charity, will lower the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.
Donation and gifting options
If you have a favourite charity you have been donating to through your life, you can set up a way to donate or gift a portion of your estate after you have passed away. Gifts up to $13,000 are exempt from estate tax, which will increase the value of your estate meaning your heirs will get more out of your estate. Gift tax exclusions can change from year to year, so make sure you are always up to date on the laws and how it works.
If you are looking to write a will but don’t know where to start, let the experienced team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd. be your guide. We can help you properly write a will to ensure that your estate is accounted for and distributed to the people you trust the most.