Don’t be one of the 70% of people who die without a Will and many times leave their family in a mess.
Signing your Will: Your Will must be signed in front of two adult witnesses both present when the Will is signed by you and each other. Each witness must be 18 years of age of older. Do not use a beneficiary named in the Will as a witness. Since your Will may contain a self-proving affidavit that has to be signed by a Notary, the Witnesses and Notary should be present when the Will is signed.
What is estate planning?
The overall planning of a person’s wealth is estate planning. All of the assets owned or controlled by a decedent and the debts that were the responsibility of the decedent at the time of deceased’s death are included in estate planning. Estate planning includes the preparation of a will and the planning for taxes after the individual’s death. In order to meet a person’s goals with respect to preparing for incapacity and death, numerous factors such as financial, estate law, insurance, investment, and tax implications must be taken into consideration..
What type of estate planning do I need?
Estate planning is tailored to the circumstances in each individual’s situation. Usually, estate planning includes:
creation of a will;
limiting estate taxes by setting up trust accounts in the name of beneficiaries;
appointing a guardian for living dependents;
appointing an executor of the estate to oversee the terms of the will;
making funeral arrangements; and
establishment of annual gifting to reduce the taxable estate.
Where should I keep my will?
Once your will is written, store it in a safe place that is accessible to others after your death. Consider keeping it in a fire proof box that you can purchase at any office supply store. You might not want to keep it in a safe deposit box because many states require that your safe deposit box be sealed upon your death.
Make sure a close friend or relative knows where to find your will. Some States allow you to file your Will with the Court before your death.
What reasons are there to change or update a will? Typical reasons for changing or updating a Will are:
(1) You marry or divorce;
(2) Birth or adoption of child;
(3) Death of a family member or beneficiary;
(4) Changes in the Federal Estate Tax laws or State Tax laws;
(5) Substantial change in the value of your estate;
(6) Change in the nature of your property holdings;
(7) A Guardian or Executor or Trustee moves away, dies, or is no longer willing or able to serve;
(8) Your children are no longer minors, or are old enough to handle financial matters on their own;
(9) You move to another state; or
(10) You wish to eliminate gifts to certain beneficiaries;
Who may make a Will?
Generally, any person 18 years or older of sound mind may make a Will. Some states allow persons under 18 to make a Will.
What happens if I die without a Will?
If you die without a Will you are designated “intestate,” meaning, “without a Testament – without a Will.” In such a case, state laws called “intestate succession laws” govern who receives your property, regardless of what your wishes might have been. A Court, not you, will decide who is to administer your estate. Generally, it is more expensive to administer the estate of a person who dies without a Will.
How long is a will valid?
A validly prepared and properly executed Will is valid until you intentionally revoke it or prepare and execute a new Will that revokes the previous Will. In addition, a change in marital status, such as a divorce, may impact provisions in a Will and/or beneficiary designations.
Administrator, administratrix — this is a person who administers an estate of a person who died without a Will.
Assets — all types of property that you own, including but limited to real estate, personal property, intangible property, causes in action, etc..
Beneficiary — a person named in your Will to receive some portion of your estate.
Bequest, bequeath — this a where you leave personal property by a will. Example: “I bequeath my diamond ring to ___”.
Codicil — a supplement, amendment, or addition to a will. A codicil may explain, modify, add to, subtract from, qualify, alter, or revoke provisions in a will.
Common disaster provision — a statement in a will which provides how property is to be disbursed if the person writing the Will and a beneficiary die in a common disaster.
Decedent — a person who has died.
Devise — to transfer real property by Will. Example: “I devise my home to _____”.
Devisee — person who received real property by a Will.
Estate — the assets a person owns.
Executor, executrix, personal representative — the person named in a will to probate the Will and administer your estate according to your wishes.
Fiduciary — an executor, guardian, administrator, personal representative or trustee.
Guardian — a person legally appointed to care for another, such as a minor child.
Heir — a person entitled under the law of intestate succession to the property of a decedent. Sometimes beneficiaries named in a will are called heirs, but technically this is not correct.
Intestate — a person who dies without a valid will.
Lapse — the failure of a bequest (as because the intended recipient dies before the testator).
Legatee — recipient of personal property by a will.
Per Stirpes — by right of representation. Rights given to Children of a deceased child of yours. Example: if a decedent had three children, one of whom had already died leaving issue(children), the estate would be divided into thirds, with each living child receiving a one-third share, and the issue of the deceased child dividing a one-third share equally among themselves.
Probate — process of validating the Will of a deceased person in Court.
Revoke — process of destroying the effectiveness of (a will) by executing another or by an act of destruction.
Succession law — governing law if there is no will which controls who will receive your property.
Testator, testatrix — person who makes a will.
Witness — one who sees the testator sign his name on his will or hears him declare it to be his will and, at the request of the testator, signs his name and address at the end of the will.