A last will and testament, commonly referred to simply as a will, is a legally-binding statement directing who will receive your property in the event of your death. It also appoints a legal representative, who is the will executor or administrator, to carry out your wishes.
It is important to understand that a will only covers probate able property. Many types of property or forms of ownership pass outside of probate, such as: Jointly-owned property, property in trust, life insurance proceeds and property with a named beneficiary (IRAs or 401(k) plans).
As a law firm providing Last Will and Testament, estate, and probate legal services, we are prepared to represent you in even the most difficult of legal challenges you may be facing. Our law firm knows how to apply the law to your specific legal needs and goals. When you must address Last Will and Testament issues… we are here to help you. Call 407.344.3400 to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your bankruptcy options.
There are many reasons why it is important for you to draft and create a will, including:
- A last will and testament can direct where and to whom your estate (what you own) will go in the event of your death. If you died intestate (without a will), your estate would be distributed according to your state’s law. Such distribution may or may not be in accord with your wishes.
- A last will and testament can be the simplest means of affecting one’s wishes about how assets should be distributed. Many people try to avoid probate and the need for a will by holding all of their property jointly with their children. This can work, but often people spend unnecessary effort trying to make sure all the joint accounts remain equally distributed among their children. These efforts can be defeated by a long-term illness of the parent or the death of a child. Additionally, joint ownership may present many unforeseen risks.
- For example: if one of the other joint owners (your son or daughter) injures someone in a car crash, doesn’t have enough car insurance to cover the costs of the injury, and a judgment is obtained against your son or daughter, the injured party can take all of your money in that joint account because your child’s name is on the account.
- Having a last will and testament can make the administration of your estate run smoothly. Often the probate process can be completed more quickly and at less expense to your estate if there is a will. With a clear expression of your wishes, there are unlikely to be any costly, time-consuming disputes over who gets what.
- Having a last will and testament is the only method which allows you to choose the person, whom you trust, to administer your estate and distribute your assets according to your instructions. This person is called your “executor” or “personal representative,” depending on your state’s statute. If you do not have a will which designates the executor of your will, the court will make the choice for you. The court often appoints the first person to ask for the post, whoever that may be.
- In the event you have a large estate, a well-planned will may help reduce estate taxes, easing the burden and further legal issues of your loved ones.
- Most importantly, should both you and your children’s other parent pass away, a last will and testament allows you to identify and appoint the person or persons, whom you trust, to take your place as guardian of any minor children.