A Will is a legal document that specifies how assets, debts and taxes are to be handled at death. Using a Will, an individual can name a Personal Representative to handle his or her affairs, and a Guardian for any minor children.
Any assets that pass through a Will are subject to the probate process. If assets are owned by a person that dies without a Will (intestate), those assets will also pass through the Probate process. It is important to have a Will to specify how your property is to be distributed and who should handle your affairs. Otherwise, a court will make these decisions for you.
It is important to note that the Probate process has many significant disadvantages that can be mitigated by a variety of methods. Probate is time consuming, costly, and it is public record in most states.
Estate Planning videos
- Does my will have to be notarized?
- How can an estate plan make things easier on my family after I die?
- How can I leave my estate to my spouse tax free?
- How can I remove assets from my estate without being subject to estate or gift taxes?
- How much does estate planning cost?
- Is signing a will a formal process?
- Must I leave something to my spouse and my children in my will?
- Should I consider life insurance during the estate planning process?
- What benefits does a trust offer?
- What does a proper estate plan include?
- What effect does a subsequent marriage, divorce, or child have on a will?
- What is a charitable remainder trust?
- What is a health care proxy?
- What is a holographic will?
- What is a life insurance trust?
- What is a living will?
- What is the effect on my estate planning documents if I move?
- What makes a will legal?
- What other probate avoiding techniques are there in addition to revocable living trusts?
- What should I do if I realize that my parents do not have an estate plan in place?
- What’s the difference between inheritance tax and estate tax?
- When should an estate plan be reviewed?
- When should I review my existing will?
- Where should I keep my estate planning documents?
- Who needs estate planning?
- Will my estate be subject to any taxes and if so what types of tax?
- Do I need a lawyer for estate planning or can I hire a paralegal or another non-attorney to assist me?
- Are there other ways of leaving property to my beneficiaries other than through a will or a trust?
- Are there alternatives for managing property when a person becomes incapacitated?
- Do I need a new trust or will if move to a new state?
- Do I need a living will, health care power of attorney, or financial power of attorney?
- Can a spouse be cut out of a will?
- Can a child be cut out of a will?
- Are there techniques available to reduce or avoid estate taxes?
- Can I make a handwritten will if I do not have much property?
- Can I appoint the same person as personal representative, trustee, and guardian?
- Can a will be changed or revoked?