Council Post: How To Determine If You Need A Will

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for market leader Argentina Trust Company In Austin, Texas, David has over 28 years of experience in the property management industry.

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Most people are generally familiar with what is called a Will, or more formally “Last Will and Testament”. Most people even know the purpose of a will – but “what does a will actually do?” and “Do I need one?” These are questions that I am frequently asked. We all have seen scenes in movies where the family’s lawyer comes home after the funeral to read the will to the bereaved family. It’s a very momentous occasion and everyone is on the edge of their seats, wondering what Grandpa might have left them with. The lawyer informs the family that the house is inherited, the Hammel statues, the family farm and, most importantly, the family property. But it usually just happens in movies and it rarely, if ever, goes like this in real life.

according to a recent A Gallup poll, more than half (54%) of adults in the US do not have a will. For adults under the age of 30, even more live without a will – 80%. Simply put, if you are married and/or have children, you must have a will. However, I also recommend that everyone over the age of 18 have a will, even if it is a very basic will.

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What does a will do?

A will is a legal document that dictates who or what entity will inherit your assets upon your death. It can be a very simple document that leaves everything to a single beneficiary such as a spouse, your children, a brother or friend, or a charity; Or it could be too complicated—using very complex estate planning techniques to limit the amount of estate tax that would be owed and creating a trust to benefit one or more beneficiaries. The type of will you will need depends on the complexity and total value of your assets. For example, in 2022, a person can transfer $12.06 million to his heirs without paying any estate or gift taxes. For a married couple this amount doubles, which equates to $24.12 million.

So, most people won’t have to pay any estate tax, but does that mean you don’t need a will? not at all! If you have any property that requires a legal change of ownership, you must have a will to satisfy your wishes. Examples are real estate, bank accounts without POD designation, brokerage accounts, automobiles, etc. If you die without a will, or what is known as an intestate, the state in which you die has provisions in the estate and probate code that specify how your assets will be divided by the courts. If you die intestate, your heirs will be bound by the dispositional plan provided for you by your state. It is unlikely that your state’s intestate provisions will match your wishes!

A will can reduce or even eliminate conflict between potential beneficiaries. If you die intestate, your heirs may dispute who gets what. A will can clearly state who receives your assets, which won’t always prevent a fight, but it will provide legal relief to allow your executor to ensure that your wishes are met and The property has been allotted as per your instructions. An executor is a fancy word for a person or corporate trustee that you appoint in your will and whom the court puts in charge of your assets.

How do I go about getting a Will?

Completing a basic will is generally not a tedious or difficult process. I have had many clients, mostly young people, ask if they can draft a will themselves using the various online tools available today. Although this is an option, it is usually not the best solution. I almost always recommend using an estate planning attorney. It is my experience that most people underestimate the complexity of their assets and it is best to transfer the assets to future generations or charity. A simple clerical mistake or error in the execution process can be disastrous. In addition, there are other basic planning documents that an estate planning attorney can draft that should also be a part of the basic estate plan.

Will is something that we all should have. The time, energy and cost are all justified when you think about the peace of mind you leave behind. I suggest not putting it off and finding an estate planning attorney in your area who can assist you in completing all the necessary planning documents. These are living documents, and should be updated and changed as the circumstances of your life, the money and the complexity of your money change.

The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult a licensed professional for advice related to your specific situation.


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