Do I Need a Will?
Wills allow you to decide who will receive your assets when you die and who will be in charge of collecting and distributing them. There are formal requirements for creating, signing, and witnessing your act of signing your will. Other common provisions include designating guardian(s) for minor children, burial instructions, and testamentary trusts.
When people die without a Will, state law dictates who will receive your assets under the Intestacy Statute. Each state has its own statute. Only people who are related to you are included. Thus, nothing will go to your favorite charity, your best friend, or your lifelong partner if you are not married to one another. If you are married and have children, your spouse will receive half of your assets and your children the other half. This may not be what you want.
If you do not have a Will, anyone who wants to see your assets distributed may file a Petition for Probate in the appropriate Circuit Court. More than one person may file a Petition – setting the stage for a family dispute. If you do have a Will, your Will states who you wish the Court to appoint as your executor. Absent compelling circumstances, the Court will honor your wishes to appoint the person(s) or entity you have designated.
One very common misconception about Wills is that having one avoids probate court. That is not true. Your designated executor does not have powers until the Will is admitted to probate and letters of office are issued to the executor.
Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney to Create My Will?
I have seen wills that people created using online tools. Nearly every time there is a problem with the Will, either in the drafting or the execution. I have seen situations where people asked a relative who is an attorney who does not practice in the estate planning area, and may even be from another state to prepare his Will for free or nearly free. One such situation involved a very crucial change to the Will. Unfortunately, the Will was not properly executed and witnessed, and the Probate Court refused to admit the Will to Probate. Thus, the Court followed the intestacy statute and the crucial change was not made. These are a few reasons why you want to use an Estate Planning attorney when you are ready to complete your Estate Plan!
At Deemer Law Firm Ltd., you are working with a lawyer with over 22 years of experience. Each client receives my personal attention. Our clients leave here knowing they have taken the steps needed in order to benefit those they chose to benefit after they are gone.