Creating a Last Will and Testament (LW&T) allows you to specifically say the way in which you want your assets to be distributed among your beneficiaries after your death. This can be a good starting point for creating a comprehensive estate plan because you may need more than just a basic will.
KAKE’s recent article entitled “What Is a Simple Will and How Do You Make One?” explains that a LW&T is a legal document that states what you want to happen to your property and “worldly goods” when you die. A simple LW&T can be used to designate an executor, the person in charge, and a legal guardian for minor children and specify who (or which organizations) should inherit your assets when you die.
A LW&T must be approved in the probate process when you pass away. After the probate court reviews the LW&T to make sure it’s valid, your executor will take care of the collection and distribution of assets listed in the LW&T. Your executor would also be responsible for paying any debts owed by your estate.
Whether you need a basic LW&T or something more complex, usually depends on a few factors, including your age, the size of your estate and if you have children (and their ages).
Having a LW&T in place can be a good starting point for estate planning. However, deciding if it should be simple or complex can depend on a number of factors, such as:
- The size of your estate
- The amount of estate tax you expect to owe
- The type of assets and property you own
- Whether you own a business
- The number of beneficiaries you want to name
- Whether the beneficiaries are individuals or organizations (like charities)
- Any significant life changes you anticipate, like marriages, divorces, or having more children
- Whether any of your children or beneficiaries have special needs
With these situations, you may need a more detailed LT&W to plan how you want your assets to be distributed. In any event, work with an experienced estate planning attorney. With life or financial changes, you may need to create a more complex will or consider a trust. It is smart to speak with an estate planning attorney, who can help you determine which components to include in your plan and help you keep it updated.
Reference: KAKE (Nov. 23, 2020) “What Is a Simple Will and How Do You Make One?”