Will Basics

Posted on: September 26th, 2018
Your will – also known as your “last will and testament” – is a legal document that tells the probate court how you want your property distributed after you die as well as who has the power and responsibility to settle your estate and raise your minor children.

Through the probate process the court will give the “executor” of your will or “personal representative” in some states, the authority to gather, manage, and protect your assets; pay any legitimate bills; file appropriate tax returns; and distribute your remaining property as you specify in your will.

Your will is only effective after your death and, then, only after a court has authenticated it. “To authenticate” means to determine to be valid. Therefore, a judge must determine your will to be valid and appoint your executor (or personal representative) before she can step in and manage your estate.

Everyone, age 18 or older, needs a will. If you don’t take action and execute a valid will, the court will step in and decide who has access to your private family and financial matters and who raises your children. And, state law determines who inherits from you - shockingly, it may not be who you would select - it might not be someone you even know.

Even if you include a trust in your estate plan to avoid probate, create disability provisions, minimize taxes, and protect loved ones, you still need a will. The only beneficiary of that will, a pour-over-will, is your trust. The pour-over-will also names an executor/personal representative and guardians for your minor children.

Getting a valid and strong will in place is easier than you think. We’ll help you make sure your needs and those of your family are met and protected.

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