A Will is a legal document prepared to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your desires. Without a Will, the state decides who gets your assets and if you have young children, the state appoints a guardian for them. Further, all of these may not be done according to your wishes.
Because of how important this document is, its preparation must not be taken lightly. While you can prepare a Will on your own, a Wills Lawyer can offer proper guidance. They have to ensure that you do not make any mistakes and that the document prepared is legally binding.
The presence of your Wills Lawyer can spare your family the hassle of trying to figure things out on their own when you’re no longer around. In this article, we will be looking at how Wills differ from Trusts and the reasons why you need a Wills lawyer.
Will Vs. Trust
A lot of people often ask what the difference is between a Will and a Trust. And if one can take the place of the other. A Trust and a Will are both legal documents within your estate plan, stating how you would like your assets distributed upon passing. However, while a Will is only effective upon the death of the owner, a Trust takes effect immediately after it is created.
With appropriate guidance from your Wills lawyer, a Will allows you to designate beneficiaries of your assets and a guardian for your young children after your passing. On the other hand, a Trust is a contract allowing someone else to hold and manage assets transferred into the Trust even while you’re still alive, with instructions to transfer those assets to other beneficiaries upon your passing.
A Will may have to go through probate and subsequently become part of public records, whereas a Trust remains private. Moreover, within a Trust, specific limits can be placed until a time when the beneficiaries are deemed fit to manage their inheritance.
Hence it is not uncommon to see clauses relating to a particular birthday, being married, or birthing a child within a Trust. Your lawyer will generally guide you on the procedures and requirements for setting up Trusts.
Reasons Why You Need a Wills Lawyer
1. To Make Sure the Document Is Legally Binding
Having a Wills lawyer will ensure that your document is legally valid and that it holds up in court. Your estate lawyer will guide you to ensure that your property and assets are disposed of in ways that conform to the law. Your Wills lawyer will also help to prove that you were of sound mind when you signed the Will.
They will make sure that the document is prepared in the right format and that it meets all the legal requirements. If your Will is found invalid for any reason, it means that your assets will be distributed according to the wishes of the state, which may not be how you would have wanted it.
2. To Take Care of All the Components of Your Estate
A lot of people assume that a Will is just for bequeathing assets to their loved ones. While that is the general purpose, there are many dimensions to transferring assets. For example, not every asset can be included in the Will and certain assets might not do well with certain beneficiaries. These are all issues that your Will’s lawyer will guide you on.
You might have joint properties or investments; how do you capture them? What happens to assets jointly owned by a divorced partner or a business partner? If you are a beneficiary of a Trust yourself, how do you incorporate that into your Will?
If you have life insurance policies or retirement benefits, how do they come in? Your estate lawyer is the best person to help you navigate all the technicalities to make sure that all your assets are properly captured.
3. To Prepare a Thorough Will
Having a thoroughly written Will can save your loved ones a lot of headache. Your estate lawyer will help you ensure that nothing is left out. If you have minors, who is the best person to look after them when you’re gone?
Do you have specific funeral requests? Do you have stepchildren or perhaps children outside your marriage who are unknown to your current spouse? Are there charity organizations you wish to give assets? Have you designated an executor for your Will?
Do you have estranged relatives to whom you would like to leave some assets? Your estate lawyer Will help you ensure that you have not left anything or anyone out. This will help to prevent any confusion or conflict when you’re no longer around.
4. To Reduce the Tax Burden on Your Loved Ones
If you have a significant amount of assets, your loved ones can be left bearing the burden of heavy taxes on your estate. Your Will and estate lawyer can help come up with several strategies in accordance with the law to reduce the estate tax burden.
Some of these strategies could include setting up living Trusts, making irrevocable gifts, and establishing joint accounts. All these measures will help to reduce the assets in your estate. Fewer assets will attract lower taxes.
5. To Protect You
There are certain aspects of your Will that are designed specifically to protect you. So they go into effect even while you’re alive. One such component is the power of attorney. Power of Attorney confers authority on a trusted third party to make important decisions on your behalf when you’re no longer physically and mentally able to.
Different forms of power of attorney abound to manage different aspects of your life. The healthcare power of attorney and the financial power of attorney are two of the most common. Your lawyer will guide you in choosing these trusted individuals and also guide you in filling and signing the power of attorney forms and any other necessary documents.
This ensures that if you become incapacitated, sound decisions will be made on your behalf to protect your interests and desires.
6. To Manage Proceedings Relating to the Execution
Your Wills lawyer helps the named executor of your Will to administer your wishes. They help to make sure that there are no hitches and no contests. If, however, your estate goes into probate, your estate lawyer can act as your lawyer for probate.
A lot of people often wonder what probate lawyers are and what they do. A probate lawyer helps to verify the authenticity of your Will in case any disputes arise. They help to prove that the Will is valid and that you were of sound mind when it was prepared and signed.
The probate lawyer lodges the Will with the Probate Court, files all necessary documents, secures and appraises all assets, and manages the estate’s finances and debts during the probate period.
While you may not be thinking about the end of your life yet, you must make plans for when that time comes. This is especially important if you do have a sizable estate. Creating a Will will help make sure that your loved ones are adequately catered for and that your assets are distributed as you wish.
A Will also protects you even while you’re alive by ensuring that trusted individuals are on hand to make the right decisions on your behalf when you no longer can. A good Wills lawyer will help make sure that your Will is properly prepared, capturing all your transferable assets and intended beneficiaries.
He Will also ensure that your Will is legally binding and can hold up against any disputes or contests. And even when you’re no longer around, your estate lawyer can provide support to your executor to ensure that your wishes are carried out exactly as stipulated.