Wills

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What is a Will? Do I really need a Will? What happens if I don’t have a Will?

A will is a legal document that lets you tell the world who should receive which of your assets after your death. It also allows you to name guardians for any dependent children. Without a will, the courts decide what happens to your assets and who is responsible for your kids.

Wills do have limitations. In particular, the beneficiary designations on financial accounts, insurance policies and other assets take precedence over wills, so it’s important to make sure your beneficiary designations are up to date and reflect your wishes.

For example, say you list your husband as the primary beneficiary on your retirement plan at work, but then you get divorced and marry someone else. If your first husband is listed as the account beneficiary, he will receive those assets at your death – even if your will says otherwise.

A will also allows you to name your executor, the person who will be in charge of your estate. Before you select an executor, make sure you understand the tasks he or she will need to perform, which include distributing your property, filing tax returns and processing claims from creditors. Your executor should be someone you trust completely – and don’t forget to ask if he or she is willing to take on such a big responsibility.

A will tells the world exactly how you want your assets distributed when you die. It’s also the best place to name guardians for your children.

Dying without a will – known as dying “intestate” – means you have no say over who receives your assets, and can leave your heirs and the court system the complex and costly job of wrangling over who should get what.

Dying without a will – known as dying “intestate” – means you have no say over who receives your assets, and can leave your heirs and the court system the complex and costly job of wrangling over who should get what.

Your assets go into what’s called “PROBATE” – an expensive and drawn out legal process which determines who inherits your estate, and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on how complicated the estate is.

So-called intestacy laws vary considerably from state to state. In general, though, if you die and leave a spouse and kids, your assets will be split between your surviving mate and children. If you’re single with no children, then the state is likely to decide who among your blood relatives will inherit your estate.

Probate is a fancy term for the legal process that occurs after a person dies. The probate court system must first validate that the will is authentic, and then proceed to distribute the estate among the heirs. When a person leaves no will, the probate court must decide, according to the laws of the state, who gets what.

Probate is an expensive process and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on how complicated the estate is. If you want to spare your heirs the hassle of probate, there are a few ways to avoid the process, such as a revocable living trust.

If you are interested in obtaining a will, or revising your will, please fill out our form below. Thank You!

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