A Will is the most traditional estate planning device. In a Will, a person dictates how he or she would like the estate assets dispersed after death. Individuals direct how they would like heirlooms passed on, as well as, their homes and other real estate. One of the most important reasons for Wills is to name a Guardian for any minor children. The Will also names the individual who will manage the estate and transfers, otherwise known as the Executor. Although a Will must be probated with the courts, it can still be a very useful Estate Planning Tool.
By drafting a Will with an attorney, an individual can specify to whom they would like to distribute their estate. If there is no will or trust in place, the estate will be intestate (without a will) and the assets will be distributed under the laws of intestate succession, regardless of any wishes of the decedent. Furthermore, Wills usually dispose of any need for an administrators bond, which is always needed in an intestate estate. This saves the estate a considerable amount of money for the cost of the bond. Finally, the Will allows an individual to name the Executor. The Executor should be a person with whom the individual places a great deal of trust, as this person will bear the responsibility of managing the estate and disbursing its assets as the Will directs.
Guardianship of minor children is one of the most important reasons why every parent with children under 18 years old should have a current will. Under the current law, if both parents have died, leaving minor children, the court must determine who will be the Guardian of the minor children. By naming a Guardian in a Will, the Judge will take the decedent’s wishes into consideration when appointing the Guardian for the children.
A will is a very good and inexpensive way of planning your estate. It notifies the courts how your assets are to be distributed, reduces the expense of probate costs, and hopefully prevents intra-family conflict by leaving detailed directions to the executor as to whom will receive your estate. It also provides a way for an individual to notify the court with whom the responsibility of raising any minor children should rest via a Guardianship. Finally, it is an excellent way to help and thank those special people in your life after you have gone.