An estate plan is something that you hear tossed around here and there. You know that it includes a will, which you believe is just a piece of paper that tells people what you want to be done after you die. However, a will may function differently than you think. If you have never been the executor of one before, you probably don’t understand exactly how it works, what goes in it and what it doesn’t cover. Before assuming you don’t need a will, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the basics of how one works.
The Purpose of a Will
When first setting out to create a plan for your family, you need to have some basics figured out. First, you need to appoint an executor, someone who will be able to take charge of your estate upon your death and get the will probated (if applicable) appropriately. Once you know this person, you can decide on some other things such as:
- What money will pay debts like taxes
- Who will get what personal effects
- How you want cash and property handled (liquidate, etc.)
Somethings cannot get addressed in a will including:
- Funeral plans and requests
- Beneficiaries to life insurance policies or trusts
- Leaving property to pets
- Leaving personal property with conditions
Handling Children in a Will
One of the most important times to create a will is when you become a parent. You will need to name guardians or who will care for your children and their property if you die while they are still minors. You and your spouse should agree on who you want to care for your children, and the people you choose should know well in advance of your wishes. The last thing you want to do is leave your children in the hands of someone who does not wish to care for them.
Rights of a Surviving Spouse
You and your spouse should create separate wills, but they will most likely complement each other. If one of you dies before the other, the surviving spouse will be the executor of the will in most cases. Most of the property and assets will go to the survivor and only get disbursed upon the death of the surviving spouse.
Creating a will should be at the top of your to-do list, whether you believe you need one or not. If nothing else, your death will not be more of a burden on your family. Meet with a wills lawyer in Ridgefield, CT to get the process started sooner rather than later.
Thanks to Sweeney Legal for their insight into estate planning and wills.