Drafting a will, otherwise known as a “last will and testament,” usually isn’t the first thing on most people’s minds, especially if they do not have children to worry about yet or if they just have not reached what they would consider “old age.” However, if you have a substantial amount of assets, having a will is important at any age. The attorneys at our firm have successfully drafted wills that represent their clients’ wishes and understand that the process requires both compassion and accuracy.
A will ensures that your final wishes are fulfilled upon your death. A lawyer can help you put into writing what and who you would like to include in your will and typically serves the following purposes:
- Appoints a personal representative or executor(s) and outlines their rights and fiduciary responsibilities.
- Appoints guardians of children left behind
- Explains the decedent’s wishes for funeral arrangements and disposition of the body
- Awards specific and general testamentary gifts
- Specifies and designates trusts
- States if any family members are to be omitted from receiving any part of the estate
- Describes provisions for pets upon the death of the owner
The provisions included in a will are taken very seriously by the courts. Judges will typically enforce what it is written in the will so as to ensure that the decedent’s dying wishes are fulfilled to the best of the family’s ability, so long as it is all legal. In some cases, the family will bring a will to court with the intention of refuting some of its clauses such as who was left ownership to a piece of real property, who a gift goes to, or who gets a particular sum of money. However, some wills include an anti-contest clause is sometimes included in the will to prevent family members from challenging the decedent’s wishes as outlined in the will in court.
A trust is a tool that allows a person to grant ownership of assets to another person, known as the beneficiary. Trusts can go into effect after the death of the trustor, or can also begin during the lifetime of the trustor. This is known as an “inter vivos” trust or a living trust. Trusts that begin after the death of the trustor are known as testamentary trusts and are generally created by the executor of the decedent’s estate and the trust is named as a beneficiary. This system moves property from the estate into the trust upon death.
There are many kinds of trusts one can utilize, but all are used as a way to hold property on behalf of a beneficiary for the future, whether the reason for holding be due to age, mental capacity, and/or to remove the property from being considered part of the taxable estate.
There are many legal elements and regulations that must be considered when drafting a last will and testament or executing a trust, so it is important to contact a lawyer experienced in handling all aspects of estate planning. For more information or schedule a consultation to begin drafting your will, call 1-833-RINALDO, or complete our contact form.