A will can serve as a powerful estate planning tool. But, it is most effective only when properly drafted. An estate planning attorney can establish a will in a manner that ensures your situation is considered and wishes will be honored.
Most people know about wills and their basic purpose – to ensure that one’s hard earned assets go to the right beneficiaries when an individual passes away. Wills can be used for a lot more than simply dictating who gets what.
Purposes of a Will
Below is a list of some of the valuable things a will can accomplish:
Plan the taxes - Wills can be tools for tax planning in order to avoid estate tax, inheritance tax or capital gain tax. This can sometimes be accomplished by setting up a trust.
Establish a trust - A person may not want a child or other relative to receive all of the inherited assets at once. A person may want the beneficiary to be able to use the assets for a while, and then for it to pass to someone else. A trust holds assets on someone’s behalf. In wills, trusts are commonly established for minor children, so that someone else can manage the children’s money until they reach a certain age when they can manage it themselves. Trusts are used in second marriages. A person may want to allow a spouse access to assets while the spouse is living, but for those assets to ultimately pass to the decedent’s children. There are many other uses for trusts.
Name guardians for children - Typically, a will designates someone to raise a person’s children if something happens to the parents, with at least one alternate in the event the first choice cannot serve as the guardian.
Identify executors and trustees - A will can state who will be the executor of an estate to carry out a decedent’s wishes. Wills can also name the trustee of a trust established in a will, the person who will be in charge of carrying out the instructions of the trust.
Outline who gets what - The most common purpose for a will is to name which individual or individuals will receive particular property belonging to a person when he or she passes away.
The Court Decides if a Will is Valid
Probate courts rule whether or not a will is valid based on a few details. Most states require that the person making a will be at least 18 years old. All states require that the person making the will be of sound mind, which is defined by the court as a person who is mentally competent and not suffering from a mental illness, clear about creating the will, aware of what property is owned and aware of the people related to the will maker. These requirements apply only to when the will is drafted. If someone creates a will and later becomes mentally incompetent, the will still applies.
Reach Out to Us
With just a little planning, you can obtain a will and get on the road to peace of mind about what will happen should you pass away. Call us today at 205-663-0281 for a free consultation if you want to know more about the will-making process. John Holliman and Melanie Bradford Holliman will help you you’re your will so you can take care of your nest egg and your loved ones. We treat you like family.
James Holliman and John Holliman, Attorneys