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Sep
15

Understanding the Nuts and Bolts of Wills

Do you need a legal will? Yes!

A will allows you to determine who will receive your assets at your death and when they will receive it. For example, your will can give assets directly to specified recipients or direct your assets to a trust until the beneficiaries of that trust reach a specified age. A will also allows you to choose the executor, who will administer your estate, and grant additional powers to your executor, such as the power to sell real estate without permission from the court. Of importance to anyone with minor children, a will also allows you to name the guardian(s) who will raise them.

Without a will, the state intestacy statute applies. In that case, the state determines who will receive your property and who will raise your children.

Once you have made your will, you should review it at least every three to five years to ensure that it still accomplishes your goals. However, you should review it more frequently and make changes if you have married, divorced, separated, or remarried; if you have moved to a different state; if your assets have significantly increased or decreased in value; if there is a change in tax laws; if your relationship with a beneficiary has changed; or if a beneficiary’s needs have changed.

A will is a vital tool in planning for the future, but it will not dispose of every asset in your estate. Only individually owned assets are disbursed through a will. Jointly owned assets, such as real estate or bank accounts, pass directly to the surviving joint owner. Similarly, assets with a designated beneficiary, such as retirement accounts, annuities, and life insurance policies, pass directly to the named beneficiaries.

Call me with any questions you may have regarding your estate plan.