A will is also called a testament. It is a legal document by which an individual that is the one giving a legacy states how their property will be distributed after their death. It also provides the names of one or more people who will be responsible for follow up not forgetting taking care of the estate until the property is distributed to respective people.
A Will is Part of Estate Planning
Estate planning is the arrangement of errands that serve to manage and dispose of an individual’s asset base during a person’s life and after death. Examples of assets which make up a person’s estate may include houses, cars, stocks, life insurance, and debt. It may involve making plans of how the property of a person will be kept, managed, and administered after the owner has died. It may also affect how a person’s assets and finances will be taken care of or distributed to in case he or she becomes debilitated. People have different reasons for planning assets which make up an estate. Such rights may be: avoiding conflict about property among the family members after the death of the owner or even leaving property or money to charity organizations. The primary step when it comes to estate planning is writing a will.
Steps writing a will
Write an introduction to the will
One should start by stating what the document is. Since the material is a will, you write, the Last Testament. After that, you write your full name and address, not forgetting that you should specify that you are a major that is over 18 years. Another thing is that you should state that you are not insane and that no one has forced you to write the will. While concluding the introduction, write that that is your last will and that any will that was written before that one should be nullified. If possible, you should include your phone number and date of birth. This is necessary for clarity.
Choose an executor
An executor follows up to ensure that what is written in the will is done and also manages the assets. In most cases, if the testator is married, he or she names their spouse as the executor. Some people choose their close or best friends since they trust them more. It is good to make the proposal to the friend and see their willingness to take the responsibility of being the executor. It is said that prevention is better than cure, so if you have an alternative executor, it will be better in case the first executor is unable to take full responsibility after your death.
Select your successors
Ordinarily, if a person has his or her own family, the first heirs automatically become the spouse and children. This is because the spouse has a legal right to inherit the property in most nations. You may be extra wealthy and would like to assist other people, so it is good to clearly state those people to avoid causing problems in the future.
Identify a guardian for underage children
You may have young children not forgetting that you are a single parent. There is a need to choose a guardian to take care of your children after you are deceased. When selecting a guardian, you should take a lot of things into consideration, such as age and trustworthiness of the guardian. He or she should have parental qualities such as being caring, not forgetting that he or she should be morally upright to teach your kids morals in your absence until they grow to be independent. It is good that you talk with the person that you will be giving that responsibility since it is not that easy.
Evaluate and divide your property
A person should take his or her time to put down all his or her assets, such as bank accounts, real estate, stocks, and also tangible assets. You might divide the property according to your relationship with the persons around you. You may, for example, give your wife and children the more significant percentage before distributing the rest to the other family members. It may be easier if you allocate specific property to a particular person such as saying that a specific piece of land belongs to my son or a certain amount of money in my bank account belongs to my wife.
Sign the will
If you filled the will online, it is good that you have the document sent to you before signing it. It is a requirement in some nations that the signature be attested by a notary who is legalized to perform certain legal formalities.
The signing of the will by the witnesses
Having at least two or three witnesses is a requirement in most nations. Witnesses should not be heirs in the will. If this happens, it is termed as unlawful. Any mistake that the witness does will make the will be called void so a person should be cautious.
Importance of writing a will
1. Helps to avoid stress in the family
It is funny that a person’s relatives may have been admiring some of his or her property and may be waiting for his or her death to take the property. There have been many cases of uncles, aunts, and parents grabbing estate of the deceased just immediately he or she dies. This may leave the bereaved poor, especially if she is a woman since most people in the society perceive women as the weaker gender. Oppression may lead to a lot of frustration. A will helps to avoid all this by ensuring that there will be no tension after the death of the owner of the property. There will be no arguments between the bereaved and other relatives since all the property has been distributed.
2. It ensures that if it charity the money or body goes to charity
When a person writes a will, there are specifications on a certain amount of money which will be contributed to charity or even body organs to be given to a specific medical school or hospital. This will help to remove controversy which may be brought about by what is said by word of mouth since the property owner may tell one of his children or the spouse that the money should go to a charity organization. In case the person dies, there will be no evidence of the words said which may lead to arguing between the relatives. Without a will, giving out body organs to a hospital will be hard since not all family members will agree.
3. It enables you to consider your spouse if you are unmarried
Since you and unmarried but live with your spouse, the state will not recognize your spouse after your death, and it will only acknowledge your relatives. A will is good since it will specify if you have left the house and the car to your partner. A will can also be useful if you accidentally got a child with a girlfriend before getting married. A will shall specify the amount of money that will be given to the child and the mother. Without the will, all this is not possible.
4. Helps you decide on who will raise your children
A person may be having underage children and is foreseeing his or her death due to medical reasons or other crucial reasons. If you do not specify on who will raise your children, especially if you are a single parent. I am sure no parent would like the state to decide on whom to raise his or her children in their absence. This is the reason as to why a will is essential.
Why Estate Planning
1. Assists your successors avoid paying extra taxes
The reason as to why estate planning is essential is to be able to know the federal estate taxes or state inheritance taxes on estates, which is higher than the exception amount. A person may find that he or she is leaving less than he or she planned due to the high estate taxes. It is therefore useful for a person to prepare his or her estate correctly to leave his or her successors with a low tax burden.
How do you avoid the estate tax?
1. Have an irreversible life insurance trust
Having a life insurance policy is a good idea since, after the insured’s death, the beneficiaries will benefit from the amount that the insured had invested in the insurance company. This will ensure that the dependents will not suffer financially after the death of the insured. It is also good to note that there is no tax imposed on life insurance even though it may be included in the insured’s estate which is taxable if unfortunately the insured dies. For one to avoid their life insurance from being taxed a person that is the insured can create an irreversible insurance trust. This is transferring ownership of the insurance to another person after setting up a trust. The reason as to why it is irrevocable is because no changes can be made without the permission of the trust’s beneficiary. If by bad luck you do the transfer late and die within three years of the assignment, the insurable life proceeds will be taxed.
2. Put up a family partnership
It may occur that a person may be having a family owned business or assets of high quality, which you would like your children to inherit after you have died. The best thing is to set up a family limited partnership and then to make your family members and successors limited partners. This means that the partners that are the heirs and relatives will own a portion of the assets, and as a result, the size of the estate becomes smaller.
2. An estate plan helps avoid probate
What is probate? Probate is establishing the validity of a will by a court. This may include paying off debts, assessing the value of assets, and distributing remaining assets to people who the court thinks should be the successors of the property. Probate may lead to a lot of strife in a family, especially if a child or a close person to the deceased is not given anything after the court has done the distribution. In addition to this, it may break the strong bond in the family, lead to a lot of time wastage since it is a process that takes a lot of time not forgetting that the finances used during this process are many which may be stressing to the family. Without the estate plan, the executor and lawyer who is chosen by the executor to oversee the legal process have to be paid, which makes the process costly. This does not mean that writing a will make you avoid probate; it is only that the process is a little bit different. There are some choices such as owning property jointly with your spouse or creating a revocable trust and transferring assets which a person has to make.
3. Helps keep your assets in the family in case your spouse remarries
In the event of the death of a person, his or her spouse may decide to remarry. If estate planning has not been done, the new husband or wife may use or even get a share of the property, which is not fair since they were not part of acquiring it from the beginning. An estate plan, therefore, ensures that the assets or property remains in the family that is with the children and the grandchildren.
4. An estate plan is suitable for peace of mind
It is said that there is usually light at the end of the tunnel. A better saying is that hard work pays. The process of getting an estate plan is not that easy since there are so many steps to be taken. The good thing is that once you acquire everything is in order. There will be no conflict in the family after you have left the earth, and a person relaxes before he or she dies.
Free Consultation with a Will Lawyer
When you need help writing a will, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506