A will is a written or oral communication by a person stating how they want their property disposed of at death. No one likes to contemplate their death or the possibility of years of illness or disability. The thoughtful creation of estate planning documents while you can express your desires regarding the distribution of assets, care of minor children, and health care wishes is the best way to control your future. It is essential to draft these documents with the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney. These documents provide you control over end-of-life situations and determine how and to whom your assets will pass.
You wanted to be an organ donor, but you never told anyone. You wanted to be cremated and have your ashes scattered at sea, but no one knows. You assumed your children would be taken care of with the money from your insurance policy, but much of that money is eaten up by estate taxes.
A written will is the cornerstone of most estate plans. A written will, prepared by an experienced attorney, allows you to:
- Select the person responsible for carrying out the wishes you outlined in the will.
- This individual is known as the executor or personal representative
- Direct the payment of debts and taxes
- Make specific bequests or gifts of tangible property like family heirlooms or sentimental items. It is useful to include the language, "If owned by me at the time of my death" in case the item has been sold or lost, in your estate planning document
- Control the distribution of the remainder (residue) of your other property
- Name a guardian or guardians for your minor children and their property
- Specify your preferred burial arrangements