Over the years, I’ve learned that many people have misconceptions about wills and trusts. Some think that they are for the extremely wealthy, while others plan to put them off until they retire. Sadly, these perceptions couldn’t be more untrue. Whether you are just starting out, or are counting down the days to retirement, you have a fortune, or are scraping by, everyone should have a will.
If an individual does not have even a simple will, in the event of their death, their estate will be intestate. Intestate means that all of their possessions will pass to their children. If there are no surviving children, it will pass to their parents, and if they aren’t surviving, the parents’ siblings. Most people would prefer their assets to be distributed differently, but without a will, their wishes will not be fulfilled.
There are three basic factors to determine when creating a will:
What are your assets?
Make a list of all of your assets, real and personal. Real property is generally land, buildings, and crops, while personal property is furniture, antiques, good, stocks, and bonds.
Who will inherit your assets?
While it can be difficult to plan to distribute your assets, it is practical. For example, it isn’t uncommon for a parent to choose to write a child or children out of a will. Regardless of the reasoning, if these are your wishes, they need to be expressed clearly through your will. You’ll always be able to change the distribution or beneficiaries down the road if you like.
Who will be the executor?
The executor of your estate will gather your assets, make distributions, and pay for any liabilities. You’ll want to appoint a trustworthy person that can be relied upon. Also, if you are in Ohio, your executor must also be an Ohio resident. A bond may be required of executor, meaning that he/she will have to pay an amount into escrow to ensure they perform their responsibilities honestly. The bond is returned when the estate is finished. You may also specify that they serve without bond, or that they are paid for their time.
It should be noted by the will preparer, beneficiaries, and executor that all final expenses and funeral bills will be paid first. Creditors have six months from the date of death to present a claim against the estate. I typically advise clients to wait at least this long before filing the estate to minimize the claims and ensure that as much inheritance as possible goes to the intended heirs.
Our law firm understands the nuances to estate planning. Because we know how valuable these services are, we offer reasonable fees and payment plans to fit any budget. Contact us today to get started.