The Last Will and Testament is a key Estate Planning document. A Will allows you to control your property at your death. We often refer to it as the “clean up” document because it tells who you want to receive your assets and how you want them to receive it.
People call our office every week asking for a “simple” Will. That is rarely what they need. A simple Will is something to the effect of “I, John Doe, leave everything to my wife and if she predeceases me, I leave everything to our kids.” How many families does this apply to? There are other factors to consider including second marriages, blended families, age of children, the benefits and consequences of loved ones receiving your assets, and many more! Most people think that all they need is a simple Will but when they learn of other options, they choose the option. A well drafted Will protects your assets and makes sure they are distributed according to your wishes.
A Last Will and Testament must meet certain criteria in order to be probated (processed through the Court after death). Those include, but are not limited to, the following:
-It must say that it is the Last and Will and Testament
-It must say that the person is over the age of 18, is of sound mind, and is not being unduly influenced
-It must state how assets are to be distributed
-The signature must be witnessed by 2 people unrelated to the person signing the Will and sign at the same time.
-It should be notarized (but is not required)
-It must be dated
-It should state the Executor and that there is no bond for the executor
You might be thinking, do I even need an attorney to draft my Will? The answer is no, an attorney is not required but it is a good idea. There are multiple things that need to be considered. Do any of your heirs (those you wish to leave your asset to) have medical issues or disabilities in which an inheritance will jeopardize government benefits? Do you own property out of state? Do you have minor children that need a guardian appointed or trust provisions (so they receive their inheritance and not the State or their guardians)?
This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding a Last Will and Testament. If you’d like to hear more about Wills, visit http://curtismediagroup.hipcast.com/deluge/curtismediagroup-20190518123420-3341.mp3 to hear Bill Alexander’s Radio Show “Asset Protection Today”. Or call our office at 919-256-7000 to schedule an appointment.