Last Will and Testament
A Will (formally called a Last Will and Testament) is a legal document that states how you want your assets distributed after you die and will name a guardian if you have minor children or pets. However, all Wills go through probate if you have more than $184,500 in assets, with some exceptions. Probate is a long expensive court process. It also means that your kids will get their inheritance when they turn 18 – Yikes!
Certain assets are not distributed by a Will. Assets owned by more than one person in “joint tenancy” or as “joint tenants” or assets with valid beneficiary designations, such as life insurance policies or retirement benefits, will pass outside of a Will to the joint owner or designated beneficiary, whatever the case. These are not probatable assets.
Without a properly drafted Will, state laws (known as intestacy laws) will determine how your assets are distributed and to whom they are distributed.
Overview of Wills
There are Two Types of Wills
Both of these types of Wills can be valid. An original Will must be presented during a probate but the judge may decide that your Will is invalid, depending upon the circumstances. If that is the case, the law of intestacy determines your beneficiaries.
Bear in mind, a Will is a single component in a comprehensive estate plan. Other necessary documents include an Advance Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney and, oftentimes, a Trust. Once you have a Trust, you need a special Will called a Pour Over Will. Our firm can give you the peace of mind to help you determine what is best for you and your loved ones.