Why A Last Will And Testament Is Important
Your Last Will and Testament is one of the basic elements of estate planning. If you die without having made a Will, then your assets will pass under the laws of intestacy. In other words, the law, and not you, will determine who gets your property, whether it is real property like your home or personal property like your money. Of course, how you own your property may play a part in who receives your property upon your death. For this reason, your Will is only one part of your estate plan, albeit an important part.
In addition to enabling you to name the recipients of your property upon your death, a Will also affords you the opportunity to appoint the people you want to be in charge. This includes your fiduciaries such as:
The executor of your estate
The trustee of any trust contained in your Will
The guardian of any minor children
Moreover, by making a Will you can waive the requirement that a fiduciary must purchase a bond, sometimes expensive and difficult to obtain, to ensure the proper execution of the fiduciary's duties. You also can appoint in your Will a funeral agent--the person responsible for the control of your funeral and disposition of your human remains.
Your Will can contain trusts, called "testamentary trusts." Think of a trust as a basket that can hold assets such as real estate, securities, and money for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Although your trustee controls the basket and the property that is added to or removed from the basket, the trustee of a testamentary trust must follow the directives you left for him or her in your Will.
The Benefits Of A Trust
Trusts can serve many purposes, ranging from reducing or eliminating estate taxes, to the giving of gifts for the benefit of minors who are ineligible to receive gifts directly or even for the benefit of adults who may not be accustomed to handling the inheritance of a lump-sum of money.
The actual signing of a Will, with some exceptions, requires a certain formality, including being witnessed by two adult individuals. If your Will is "self-proving," following your death your executor can submit your Will to the county Surrogate for probate without further input from the witnesses.
Make Sure Your Wishes Are Clear
If it has been a while since you signed your Last Will and Testament, call me, attorney Ronald M. Katkocin at Katkocin Law Office in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, today at (609) 953-2000 about updating your Will, or contact the office online. I help clients throughout Burlington County and all of New Jersey.