Without a valid and legal will, it can open the door to family fighting or high court costs to settle an estate.
The Seattle Times’s recent article entitled “Do you have a will? Without an estate plan, families can struggle to sort it out” advises you to write your wishes in a will so your estate is handled responsibly at the end of your life.
It’s the best thing you can do to help your family and help eliminate fighting in the future.
A will can help with the most routine aspects of settling someone’s affairs or provide additional protection for more rare events.
If a person dies without a will, they are said to have died intestate. The deceased’s estate is handed over to the local probate court to identify creditors and beneficiaries and allocate assets.
Property typically goes to a surviving spouse first, then to any children, then extended family and descendants, following the state’s probate laws. If no family can be found, the property typically reverts to the state.
You can also ask an experienced estate planning attorney about a living trust.
A trust is a legal document that can set out plans for someone while they’re still alive and after death, including instructions for dividing up all assets, including property, businesses, and investments.
While most instructions should be covered in the living trust, writing a will can also serve as a backup document to lay out how the executor should transfer property and other assets if they are not in the trust. In addition, wills used in conjunction with a living trust commonly designate that trust as the beneficiary of the will. Hence, such wills are referred to as pour-over wills.
A will created by a software program must be witnessed by two witnesses and notarized while all the people are together. However, it can be disputed in court if questions about its authenticity or it is not properly witnessed. People who draft their own will risk leaving out or forgetting heirs or assets they want to identify if it’s not checked over by a professional.
Reference: Seattle Times (May 16, 2022) “Do you have a will? Without an estate plan, families can struggle to sort it out.”