Your last will and testament is the document used to spell out exactly how you want your assets distributed after your death. Keeping it up to date and aligned with your state’s laws can prevent estate battles among family members. A recent article from The Motley Fool, “Where There’s A Will, There’s a Way. How You Can Avoid Conflict When Divvying Up Your Estate,” provides the details.
The article advises hiring an experienced estate planning attorney to create an up-to-date and legally valid will. You’ll want someone familiar with your state's legal nuances and who knows how the local probate courts work.
Your will is also used to name the executor of your estate, who will administer your wishes. If you have minor children, the will is used to designate a guardian for your children.
Communication with your loved ones about your intentions will give them time to process your wishes and could reduce the risk of any will contests. Share your plans with immediate family members and key beneficiaries. The same goes for any changes to the estate plan during your lifetime.
Transparency includes ensuring everyone knows who has possession of the signed, legal, and final version of this vital estate planning document. Your executor or estate planning attorney may possess the will, but others should know where it is being kept.
Typically, a will must be filed with the county probate court within ten to thirty days of death.
Your estate plan also includes beneficiary designations on any bank accounts, investment accounts, and insurance policies. They could be mentioned in your will, but the beneficiary designation directs who receives these assets.
Assets with beneficiary designations don’t go through probate; instead, they go directly to the beneficiary. Review them annually and update them after any significant life events like birth, marriage, divorce, etc.
Estate planning is a highly personal and ongoing process. It is essential to seek guidance from experienced estate planning attorneys to ensure your estate plan reflects your wishes and confirms your state’s law concerning inheritance. Leave a legacy of love, not conflict.
Reference: The Motley Fool (Aug. 6, 2023) “Where There’s A Will, There’s a Way. How You Can Avoid Conflict When Divvying Up Your Estate”