A good will can make all the difference to those you leave behind.
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A will is a legal document that directs the distribution of anything that is owned by that individual alone and listed in the will. Whether it concerns millions of dollars or just an old car, a will makes things much easier for everyone left behind. If there is no will, decisions about distribution of all of the deceased’s property are made by the county court through a process called probate, which may take a long time. Anyone 18 years old or older can create a will, and wills should be revised periodically to reflect changing life circumstances.
While do-it-yourself wills, done correctly, are legal, you may cause unintended problems for your heirs simply by being unaware of other legal options and consequences. An attorney can help you think through issues such as impact on taxes, establishing guardianship for minor children, or providing for incapacitated adults without jeopardizing their other sources of assistance. In some cases, creating trusts or making bequests before you die may be as important as the instructions you leave in your will.
Legal Terms Related to Wills, Trusts, and Estates
Heir – A person related to the deceased by blood, marriage, adoption or other basis, as defined by
Personal Representative (PR) – Often referred to in common conversation as “executor,” the PR is the person who the deceased and/or court gives the responsibility for seeing that the affairs of the deceased are settled. A PR is necessary whether or not there is a will.
Probate - The legal procedure for settling the affairs of a deceased person. It includes collecting the person’s property and money, paying his or her last bills and distributing the remaining money and property to the heirs.
Estate Planning - It includes making a will but it also may include making a legal strategy for paying the least amount of estate taxes possible. Estate planning may also include setting up a trust to benefit a person unable to manage money. There are many kinds of trusts.
Estate Taxes – These are taxes collected on the net value of the total estate. Federal estate taxes are collected on estates with net value over $2 million, for people dying from 2006 through 2008. State of
Codicil - A legal document a person uses to change her will. The attorney who prepared the will should be consulted when the client wants to change her will.
These definitions cover only some of
To understand how to handle your particular situation, consult an attorney.
For Referral to an Attorney Who Does Wills, Trusts, Estates, Long-Term Planning, and Estate Litigation, call
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