A valid will is a legal instrument setting forth how a testator’s property will be transferred upon his or her death. Property may include real property, personal property, intellectual property, and all other property interests held by the testator. A will is an important element in any estate plan. Preparing a valid will will help you protect your assets and your surviving family members. Drafting a will without the assistance of an attorney may be detrimental to your estate planning goals.
Defining A Legally Valid Will
A valid will is a legal instrument setting forth the testator’s wishes concerning the distribution of assets. Wills often name guardians for surviving minor children. Dying without a valid will means that you die intestate and no estate plan will direct the distribution of your assets. The court will use the laws of intestacy and intestate succession to determine who will inherit your assets.
If you die intestate your wishes will not be carried out by the court. Any heirs living at the time of your death will not be able to settle your probate administration without spending time and money.
Wills are tools that should be included with all estate plans. Your will will designate who gets your assets and the amounts they receive. If you do not want specific people to receive your assets you can state these wishes in your will. Beneficiaries named in your will will be able to acquire assets sooner if you die having created a valid will. Identifying who should be the guardian of minor children is also a benefit of creating a valid will.
Wills must be probated in court. Having a valid will cannot help you or your heirs avoid probate administration. A valid will provides instructions to the probate judge so the assets can be distributed in accordance with the valid will. The contents of a will become public record.
If you die with a valid will you can periodically distribute your assets. The beneficiaries over age 18 will receive the inheritance amount in one payment. This may be a disadvantage depending on the goals of your estate plan.
Preparing A Valid Will
Who do you want to inherit your estate assets? In what proportion do you want multiple beneficiaries to inherit your assets? If you want to provide assets to your children equally you can accomplish this goal. If you want to provide more assets to one child than the other children you can accomplish this as well. You may want to provide assets to a charity or non-profit organization, and you can also do this by preparing a valid will.
You will also want to designate a personal representative to administer your estate. A personal representative will arrange funeral procedures, alert your beneficiaries of the administration, and distribute the estate assets. An organized and financially responsible person should be named as the personal representative. Personal representatives have legal duties to be honest regarding the administration and act in the best interests of the testator and the beneficiaries.