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Estate Planning Basics: Why Do I Need a Will

Although death is a difficult discussion to have, planning for what will happen after death is a necessary discussion. One major component of an estate plan is a “Last Will & Testament” – otherwise referred to as a “will.” Everyone has heard of a will, but what exactly does it consist of and why is it so important? A will consists of your (the testator’s) intentions and desires of how you want your property distributed after death. A will is important because it ensures that your property will be distributed as set forth in the will, and not through intestacy (dying without a will).

Wills are not universal. Every person will leave a different sized estate behind when they die. Fortunately, no matter your estate size, a will allows you to designate specific property to certain people. For example, if the testator wishes to leave behind a valuable piece of jewelry to one of their grandchildren, the testator can do so through their will. Additionally, the testator can designate certain property to an entity. For example, a testator can designate a piece of real property that they own to a church through their will. In sum, wills are specific to the testator and a will provides the testator the freedom to leave behind their property as they wish.

Wills must meet certain formalities in order to be valid. The following conditions must be met when creating the will:

 

You should also designate an executor and an alternate executor (in case your first choice passes away before you do, becomes unable or is otherwise unwilling) to oversee the fulfillment of your will. It is important that your executor knows that you have chosen them as the executor of your will so that when the time comes the will is effectively carried out as you intended it to be.

What if I die without a will? A person who dies without a will is said to die intestate. The property left behind from an individual who dies intestate will be distributed through intestate succession by the probate court. Intestate succession distributes the estate in a certain order and the family has no control over that distribution. However, by formulating a valid will you can avoid the distribution of your property through intestate succession.

Though seemingly complex and intimidating, Sullivan Law Firm is here to assist you in formulating a valid will that encompasses all of your intentions. We are here to help ensure your voice is heard!

* THIS POST IS IN NO WAY INTENDED TO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE, TAX ADVICE, OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE TO SET UP A CONSULTATION AND TO EXECUTE AN ENGAGEMENT AND FEE AGREEMENT.