We have all learned, especially with recent events, that our destiny is uncertain. Unfortunately, there is a vast number of people who do not want to even think about the prospect of death and, therefore, put off doing one of the most important legal acts of their lives - having an estate plan, and at the very least, a will. Without a will, your entire estate, as well as the future of your children, could be tied up in court for years. More importantly, your estate and your children could pass to people who you never would have selected in a million years. Imagine an ex-spouse receiving all of your assets or a distant relative taking care of your children after your passing.
The purpose of this website is to help you recognize the importance of having an estate plan, a will, and other documents which would come into force if your became incapacitated. This website will help you to understand such terms as probate, living trust, durable power of attorney, living will, and joint ownership. It will help you decide which people in your life should handle your estate if you pass away or become incapacitated. It will stress the importance of selecting alternative guardians for your children if you and your spouse were to pass away in a common incident. While these considerations may take a little time and effort and while thinking about the future may be uncomfortable, such decisions and plans are perhaps the most important of your life.
PLEASE NOTE: This website is for informational purposes to start you thinking about an estate plan and your future. It is imperative that you always consult with an attorney in your state about this very important aspect of your life. An experienced attorney can help you make the right decisions about your family, your estate, and your future.
What is an estate and what does it consist of?
- Find out why you should have a Will;
- What are the various Legal Considerations you need to know before making a Will;
- What should you consider in Choosing an Executor or Choosing Guardians for your children;
- Outlines the formal requirements of a Will and how to properly sign a Will;
- Canceling your old Will and creating a new Legal Will, all for Free.
A Will determines who controls your estate after your death (the Executor/Trustee/Personal Representative)
A Will identifies the persons that will receive your estate (the beneficiaries)
Having a will minimizes estate expenses that result when a person dies without a will (if you die without a Will, the Court will have to appoint an Administrator)
If you die without a will (Intestate), State law will determine who is entitled to your estate and the amount of your estate that they will receive (Intestate Succession)
If you have infant children and you die without a Will and your Spouse is also deceased or unfit to act as the parent of your children, the Court will appoint someone to care for your children. This person may not be the person you would have chosen as the Guardian for your children. Contested Guardianship proceedings will result in your Estate incurring needless expense.
The following procedure sets out the requirements to legally sign a Will:
You and two witnesses (in Vermont, 3 witnesses) must be present in the same room at the same time, and you must each watch one another sign the Will.
Neither witness should be a beneficiary nor the spouse of a beneficiary named in the Will or the gift to such person or the spouse of such person may fail.
Put your initials at the right hand corner of the bottom of each page (except the last page where you will sign the Will on the line above your name).
Each witness must then initial each page next to where you placed your initials.
Insert the date where indicated on the last page of your Will, and place your initials in the margin closest to where you inserted the date (each of the witnesses should also place their initials in this location as well, next to your initials).
On the last page of the Will sign with your normal signature on the line above where it states "Name of Testator" (sign as if you were writing a check).
On the last page of the Will, each witness should print his or her name, address, and occupation in the spaces provided and then sign with their normal signature on the line above where it states "(Signature of Witness)". You and the witnesses should only sign the original Will (no copies).
In many States, you will want your witnesses to sign a document called a "Self Proving" Affidavit (or sworn statement). This Affidavit of the subscribing witnesses must be sworn before a Notary Public in your State (or an Officer authorized to administer Oaths under the laws of your State}. This Affidavit eliminates the need for the witnesses to testify that they witnessed your signing the Will. Otherwise, problems may result if the witnesses have died or cannot be located.
Continue to Legal Considerations of a Creating a Will.
Will - "the legal expression or declaration of a person's mind or wishes as to the disposition of his property, to be performed or to take effect after his death".
Anyone of legal age (18 years of age in most states) should have a Will. A staggering 70% of legal age American don't have one. Mostly because we don't place importance of have a Will until it's too late. Additionally, anyone without a Will could (and probably will) end up in probate court fighting for our deceased loved ones articles. The cost of this is many times more than the actual value of the articles we wish to receive. Placing value on an article in someone's estate could mean a dollar amount or a family (memory) value. Making a Will can be quick and easy and most of all emotionally satisfying when you know your affairs are in order. Below you will find information about Wills. Some of the information may seem long and drawn out but understand that a Will is a simple document that can be produced quickly and easily on your home computer. We have elected to place our information in "bullet point" form to come to the point faster and thereby making your reading and understanding of a Will quicker.
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