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As a powerful legal document, your will is one of the most important components of your overall estate plan. Prepared with the assistance of an attorney, a carefully crafted will is your most reliable guarantee that distribution of your assets is conducted according to your wishes. It allows you to make your intentions clear.
Four Key Questions Answered
1. Why does everyone need a will?
You may believe that you don't need a will. Perhaps you assume that a will is unnecessary since state laws exist that, absent a will, governs the division and distribution of your assets after your death. Or, you may feel that the size of your estate doesn't warrant a will. If your decision not to have a will rests on either of these assumptions, you're making a mistake with potentially far-reaching implications.
All in all, your will deserves special attention and careful thought. Yet even individuals who already have a will sometimes underestimate its importance or neglect the periodic check-ups necessary to ensure that it remains up to date and in tune with current intentions.
2. What's an executor and what are their responsibilities?
Your will should include the name of your personal representative, usually called an executor, who is charged with carrying out the wishes you express. Many individuals automatically name their spouse or oldest child without giving the matter much thought. The role of the executor, however, is much more demanding than most people realize. A thoughtful selection is essential. Consider what is required of your executor because complex responsibilities like these may be a lot to ask—even of a family member.
3. What's the advantage of naming a Professional Executor?
You may wish to consider the benefits of a professional executor, especially if settling your estate is likely to be a complicated or lengthy affair. Naming a trust company or other professional fiduciary means that you can rely on an experienced, impartial third party to carry out your wishes—someone who is always working in the best interests of your estate and beneficiaries.
In addition, in many states professional estate settlement removes the necessity of posting a surety bond.
4. When should you review and/or revise your existing will?
Your will may be changed as often as you wish. If the change you desire is relatively simple, an amendment to the document, known as a codicil, is executed with the aid of an attorney. If you decide to write a new will altogether, the new document should specifically revoke all prior wills. (Remember that revoking a will automatically revokes its codicils, but revoking a codicil does not necessarily revoke a will.)
You should also review your will when any of the following events occur:
If you believe a change to your will is necessary you should consult an attorney who is familiar with the probate code of the state in which you live. He or she will know how best to comply with various state requirements.
Next Steps: Meet our team online and call or email to set up a time for your free consultation. Or contact us at 206-812-5176 or 800-233-2328, ext. 5176 with any questions.