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Estate Planning with Wills

A will is a document that ensures that one's hard earned assets are distributed to certain preferred beneficiaries following one's death. Additionally, wills can be used for a lot more than simply laying out who gets what.

A will usually includes six main points: 

  • Distribution of Assets: The main purpose of a will is to ensure proper property distribution, pursuant to the wishes of the deceased. In a will, one can specify what individual, number of individuals, or organization will receive particular assets.  
  • Appointing Guardians for Children (if applicable): If an individual passes away and leaves behind any children, the will can determine who will be appointed the child's or the children's legal guardian. The will will also contain an alternate legal guardian in the event that the first legal guardian is unable to serve.
  • Establish Trusts: A trust is used to manage and protect the property of the deceased as well as to determine the distribution of property. In its simplest form, a trust is an entity that holds property on another person's behalf.
    Trusts offer a flexible array of options that can enable an individual to protect their assets from taxation or creditors to ensure that such assets can benefit one's child, spouse, or preferred beneficiary. Trusts are commonly established for minor children, so that someone else can manage the child’s money until they reach a certain age. Trusts are also commonly used when the deceased has been married twice. A person may want to allow a spouse to have access to certain property while the spouse is living, but for that property to ultimately pass to the decedent’s children. Trusts can help accomplish a wide number of goals.
  • List funeral wishes: A will can also manage the funeral and burial processes that were determined by the deceased. Wills can specify a number of things, for example; An individual's desire to be buried or cremated and specifications determining where the body should be buried or the ashes should be spread. Sometimes, wills contain other information about funeral wishes too like where it should take place and even what readings might be recited.
  • Tax Planning: Wills can be great tools for tax planning in order to avoid federal or state inheritance and estate taxes. This can be accomplished through a number of trusts that can be specified in the will.
  • Naming Executors and Trustees: A will usually states who will be the executor of an estate,  the executor being the person who will carry out a deceased individual’s wishes as listed in the will. Wills can also name the trustee of any trusts established in the will, the trustee being the person who will be in charge of carrying out the duties of the trust.

While wills can serve as powerful estate planning tools, they are only effective if they are properly drafted to suit the needs of each individual. An estate planning attorney can review all your options with you and establish a will in a manner that ensures your wishes will be honored.



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