Wills Spell Out How Assets Are Distributed
You may leave your assets and property to anyone you choose. But, without a will, the law determines how your assets are distributed. This may not be how you want it. For example, when a person dies without a will and has no spouse or any minor children, that estate is divided equally between the deceased person’s adult children and his/her surviving parents.
Wills Spell Out Who will Handle Your Estate
You want someone who is honest, responsible and well organized to handle your estate matters. This includes ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. If you do not have a will, the court will appoint a person to handle your estate. This could be someone you don’t want.
Wills Spell Out Who Will Care for Your Minor Children
If you have children under the age of 18, you will want to name a guardian and trustee for your children. A guardian is the person with whom your child will live and who will care for your child on a day to day basis. A trustee, often called a custodian, is the person who will hold and manage the child’s inheritance until the child reaches an appropriate age. In a will, you can determine who these players are. Oftentimes, the person who will best care for your children may not be the best person to manage their money.
You Can Set Up a Trust for Minor Children or Children with Special Needs
If you have children under the age of 18 or a special needs child, you may want to consider including a trust. A special needs child who is receiving governmental benefits may lose those benefits when an inheritance is received. You can use a trust to prevent this from happening. Additionally, minor children would receive their shares of your estate at the age of 18. But, a young adult may not be responsible enough to handle and manage inheritance monies. With a trust, you may spread the distribution out over several years or throughout the child’s lifetime. Also, you can instruct that trust funds be used strictly for certain purposes, such as college or the purchase of a house.
Wills can help you Disinherit Family Members
You may include provisions in your will to avoid having it challenged by an heir who disagrees with you. There are instances when you do not want certain heirs to inherit your property or funds. There may be an estranged child that you do not want to receive any part of your estate. If an heir is subject to judgments, has filed for bankruptcy or is receiving government benefits, you may choose to specifically exclude that person from your estate in your will.
Wills can help you Avoid Arguments and Hostility Among Family Members
When you have a will, you make your intentions clear. You state who you want to handle your estate, how the funds are to be distributed and when and on what conditions those distributions take place. Without a will, there can be arguments among family members as to who gets what and who should be responsible for opening and handling the estate.
Wills Give People Peace of Mind
You will have greater peace of mind knowing that your family is taken care of when you are no longer here to care for them. For the highest level of peace of mind, it is best to have an estate plan in place. At the very least, be sure to have a will in place. This removes some of the stress placed on a family during that difficult time when a loved one passes away.
Maryland Estate Planning Attorney, Tara K. Fame, at Your Service
With offices in Pasadena and Stevenson, Frame & Frame is conveniently located and ready to help you create a will, trust or complete estate plan. We also provide probate and estate administration services. Call us today at 410-255-0373 to discuss your particular circumstances. We can help you craft legal documents to suit your specific situation.