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Last Will and Testament

Executing a Last Will and Testament is a relatively simple and inexpensive process. A Will is used to bequeath inheritance to beneficiaries. There are many ways to draft a Will, but the most common is to utilize the services of a professional estate planner. Doing so can protect the Will from being contested in probate court.

The Last Will and Testament involves several elements. First, a probate executor is designated to handle estate-related affairs. Estate administrators are responsible for a variety of duties, so it is best to discuss this position with the person before naming them in the Will.

Administrators are compensated for their duties. The fee can be charged at an hourly rate, flat fee, or percentage of the estate. It is a good idea to name a primary and secondary estate administrator within the Will. If the primary administrator is unable or unwilling to fulfill the duties, the second administrator can quickly step into the role.

The last will is used to list specific bequests of property to beneficiaries. This can include statements such as, "I bequeath my Hummel collection to my niece, Sally. I bequeath my collection of vinyl records to my brother, Sam. I bequeath my china and crystal dinnerware service to my sister, Anita."

After specific gifts are listed, the remainder of the estate can be gifted to a specific individual. This is referred to as bequeathing the 'residuary of estate'. Residuary assets are generally given to the surviving spouse or direct lineage heirs, but can be left to anyone; including charitable organizations.

Charitable bequests are outlined within the last will. Individuals can donate to one specific charity or multiple charities. Specific dollar amounts are documented within the will. The estate administrator is responsible for distribution of charity donations.

The last will and testament includes provision for burial preferences. Many people preplan their funeral and have purchased burial plots. This information should be provided within the will. Others purchase life insurance policies to cover funeral expenses. Beneficiaries sign the policy over to the funeral home. Any remaining funds are distributed to the beneficiaries through the insurance provider.

Burial details can be outlined within the will. A statement could include, "I wish to be buried in my faded blue jeans, red T-shirt and flip flops. I want a simple wooden coffin, not to exceed $1500. I'd like to have red flowers on top of the casket. In lieu of additional flowers, I would like visitors to donate to my favorite charity. I'd like to have island music playing softly in the background."

Detailing your funeral can be a bit awkward, but it is very beneficial to individuals' left to plan the service. The more details provided, the easier their job.

Engaging in estate planning is the best gift you can leave your loved ones. Settling the estate of a family member who dies intestate (without a will) is a miserable experience. Your family should never have to endure this while grieving.

Many options exist to document your final wishes. Preformatted wills can be downloaded online or purchased at office supply stores. Some banks and credit unions offer low-cost estate planning services to their customers. Attorneys can execute a last will for a nominal fee. Estate planners can establish trusts to avoid probate and protect assets from inheritance taxation.

The type of estate planning you need depends upon many factors. It is best to obtain advice from qualified professionals. These agents can help determine the best plan to protect assets and ensure your loved ones receive the inheritance you want them to have.

We invite you to visit our last will and testament library to learn more about estate planning, probate and inheritance. New articles are added each week, so take a moment to subscribe to the RSS feed located on the right upper corner.

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Published on July 03, 2009 at 02:56 AM

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