Estate planning is taking on greater importance during these troubling times and people are increasingly thinking about how to go about protecting their loved ones. Before anything else, it is useful to understand the basics. Moving forward with an estate plan can be complicated, but knowing the fundamentals of a will should come first. Those who die without a will can leave dependents and loved ones in a difficult position. It can also lead to items that were supposed to go to a certain loved one up in the air.
There are different types of wills that should be grasped when completing these vital documents. When there is a will, if the person who crafted it – the testator – dies, there will be a guideline as to where all his or her property goes. It can also address how children under 18-years-old will be cared for. A living will is different. It details what the testator wants to be done medically if there is a terminal illness or an inability to communicate. This gives the family and the physicians providing care a full picture of what the person wants without ambiguity. It can include whether the person wants to be kept alive through artificial respiration or not.
People who die without a will are known as dying “intestate.” This means that the legal system will need to determine how to allocate the assets. It can be the foundation for dispute among heirs and would-be heirs. If, for example, the testator had more than one marriage and children with each spouse, the absence of a will could be the catalyst for disagreement or outright acrimony over the person’s property.
With a will, the testator can name an executor who oversees the distribution of the assets, the paying of the debts and other necessities. The assets will be divided according to what the will says. Beneficiaries or organizations where the testator wants the assets to go can be named. Guardians for children can be listed. This may be critical as the court will name a guardian if the testator does not do so. For these and other parts of estate planning, it may be beneficial to have an advocate who can provide guidance and advice. Considering the value of legal assistance is a wise step with these crucial decisions.