A will is a document which describes the manner in which the maker wants his or her estate to be settled. Within a will one can accomplish one or more of the following:
- Designate who gets their property at death,
- Designate one or more trusts to manage the distribution of their property,
- Make specific gifts (bequests),
- Designate a guardian for minor children,
- Give instructions regarding funeral arrangements.
When a person dies owning property, the title to the property, whether it is real estate, a bank account, motor vehicle, etc., must be transferred to the heir in order for that heir to exercise control over the property. This transfer can be made much simpler if a will is established and probated. An executor, named by the maker of the will, is appointed by the probate court and given authority to pay debts, and transfer property in accordance with the maker’s wishes.
Without a will, or proper estate planning, the court process can be much more complicated and lengthy. Affidavits of heirship may be required, or an administration, overseen by the court, may be required.
Similarly, if a couple or a single parent dies while their children are minors, they may provide in their will a person of their choosing to be the guardian for the children. Without such a provision, a guardianship proceeding must be brought in court and the court will decide who will be the guardian. Further, minor children cannot inherit property. A will can provide for a trust for the children in order to prevent putting the property in the hands of a court-appointed guardian, who may or may not use the property for the sole benefit of the children.
No matter what your age, if you are an adult with property and/or minor children, you have the opportunity to save your loved-ones unnecessary litigation and expense by establishing a will and/or small estate plan. A lawyer can help. It is well worth the investment.
For more information visit mmconnollylaw.com