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Executing a legal Will is one of the greatest gifts you can leave your loved ones. A Will is used to express burial preferences and name beneficiaries to receive property and personal belongings. The Last Will and Testament gives you the opportunity to have the final say in the event of your death.

A Will is also used to appoint an estate administrator. Most often this person is a family member or close personal friend. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, some people retain a professional estate planner or probate attorney to manage their estate. It is a good idea to use the services of a neutral third party if family strife exists.

Death affects everyone differently. Sometimes it brings families closer together and other times it tears them apart. Executing a last will and testament can minimize potential chaos and family strife. It grants you the opportunity to bequeath monetary gifts and personal belongings to whomever you choose.

Heirs might not agree with your terms of disbursement, but unless they contest the Will there is nothing they can do about it. The Will can also be used to intentionally disinherit direct lineage heirs. Inheritance laws usually favor the surviving spouse and children over distant relatives. Most states require decedent's to include a disinheritance clause stating they intend to leave the person out of their Will.

The clause proves to the court you knew the heir is alive and intended to disinherit them. If a disinheritance clause is not included the heir can contest the Will on a number of basis. They could claim you were not of sound mind when executing the Will; under the influence of another's persuasion; or that you did not know they were alive.

The last will must pass through probate before assets are distributed to heirs and beneficiaries. Probate usually takes six to nine months to complete. If no Will exists, the estate administrator must take action to locate any missing heirs. This can include taking out Classified ads in local newspapers or hiring a private investigator.

When drafting a Will include a list of all potential heirs and include their full name, address, phone number, date of birth, and social security number if available. Doing so can save time and money and expedite the probate process.

Multiple options exist for creating a Will. If your estate value is less than $50,000 a basic Will should be sufficient. Office supply stores sell preformatted forms that only require you to fill in the blanks. Last wills need to be witnessed and notarized to be legally binding.

Consult with an estate planning attorney if you own real estate, valuable assets, automobiles or a business. Estate planners offer guidance on the best way to protect assets in the event of death. Many options exist including revocable and irrevocable trusts and irrevocable life insurance trusts. These options keep estate assets out of probate and reduce or eliminate inheritance taxes.

Most people procrastinate about executing a Will. If you watch the daily news, you can witness how quickly life can be taken away. Car accidents, plane crashes, shootings, stabbings, freak accidents occur every second of every day. We never know when our time may come.

Don't leave tying up loose ends of your life to someone else. Take time now to draft a Will and put your affairs in order. An hour or two of your time could prevent added heartbreak for the loved ones left behind.

We encourage you to learn more about estate planning and creating a Will in our article library. You'll discover tips and techniques to avoid probate, what to expect in the event of probate, inheritance taxes, selling probate assets for cash and much more!

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Published on September 14, 2009 at 01:27 AM

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