Needing a will? Here are some things to think about:

Though we don’t like to think about it, we are all going to pass away at some point.  If it is important to you who will get your assets after your death, you should have a will drafted for you.  If you do not have a will and pass away, you will be deemed to have passed away ‘intestate’ and the disbursal of your assets will be done according to governing statutes. Complex issues often arise after a death in the family, and a will can help resolve any issues that arise.

One of the most important steps in drafting a will is naming an executor.  The executor carries out your last wishes and oversees the distribution of your assets.  You want to name someone who is dependable and trustworthy as your executor.  I recommend checking with that person to make sure they are agreeable to be named as an executor as you don’t want to surprise them with your designation.  Additionally, if you have minor children it is also important to name a guardian who will care for your children in the event of the death of both parents.

Another important consideration to think about is whether you need to set up a trust in conjunction with your will or to merely set up a trust in place of a will.  People with minor children may wish to set up a contingent trust as a part of their will in the event both parents pass away.  This allows them to have a say in the care of their children and to determine the terms of when their assets will be disbursed to their children.

Some important things to think about when formulating your will:

Children: If your children are minors, who will care for them and when do you want to disburse your assets to them.

Pets: List pets and provide instructions for the care of the pet.

Disposition of Property: Indicate who gets what and how much.

Children’s Guardian: A personal guardian is listed for the care of our children.

Property Guardian: If needed, an individual who is guardian of property held for the children until they are legal adults.

Executor: This person ensures the will is carried out.

Payment of Debts and Taxes: Instructions for how any outstanding debt or taxes are paid.

No-Contest Provision: This legal statement says that if a beneficiary contests the will, they get nothing.

In certain circumstances, if you are a business owner or have significant assets it may be beneficial to establish a trust instead of a will.  This allows your beneficiaries to bypass the probate system and can bring significant tax savings.  I recommend you speak with an attorney to determine whether you need a trust or if a will can provide the same benefits.

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