Most people know about wills and their basic purpose – to ensure that one’s hard-earned property goes to the correct heirs when someone dies. However, most people are unaware that wills can be used for much more. Here’s a list of things that a will can do:
- Name an executor. An executor is the one who carries out your wishes in your will and controls your estate. Naming your own executor allows you to put your estate under the direction of someone you trust to carry out your last instructions.
- Distribute your property. The most commonly known aspect of a will is that it distributes your property. You can distribute specific items to specific people or make broad distributions of property to your heirs. What you need to know is that any personally-owned property not distributed through your will will be distributed through state law known as intestacy.
- Establish a trust. A will could establish a trust for one or more heirs. Often, the trust is established because the heirs are too young, incompetent, or otherwise unable to manage their own financial affairs. A trust could also be useful in a second marriage where the spouse is allowed to use the property but is passed to your children upon the death of the surviving spouse.
- State your funeral wishes. A will commonly states one’s personal and religious preferences for your funeral. Your will can include specific directions about where and how your remains are to left to rest or can direct your executor to other documents where detailed funeral instructions are maintained.
- Name guardians for minor children. A will can name guardians for your children if something should happen to one or both parents. The guardian can be someone you choose, who shares your values and will raise your child how you would.
- Tax Planning. Although the most effective tax planning is done prior to death, a will could be used to engage in tax planning to avoid estate and inheritance taxes. It could also avoid situations where your heirs would be assessed income or property taxes after they received the property.
While wills can be powerful estate planning tools, they are only effective if properly drafted. The will should be customized to meet your needs and goals. An estate planning attorney can review all your options with you and create a will that ensures your wishes will be honored.
Contact Yeager Law with your questions, comments, and concerns.