One truth about life here on earth is that anything can happen, even death. Everyone has an estate that consists of everything a person owns — this can be real estate (house, apartment, land), car, bank accounts, investments, insurance, jewelry, or other personal properties. The one thing in common between the wealthy and marginalized is that they cannot take their estates with them once they die, no matter how large or modest.
You should start taking control of your estates while you’re still in a healthy condition to avoid legal battles between family members or to anyone you left with valuable assets. Creating a Last Will and Testament as early as possible brings the bereaved clarity and peace of mind. You should prepare this document together with a trusted lawyer.
Here are the reasons to secure a Last Will and Testament:
You decide the distribution of your estate.
Last Will and Testaments are legally-binding documents stating how you want your estate to be taken care of. Having this document guarantees that your loved ones follow your intended desires upon your death and determines who receives an estate, what kind of estate, and when they will receive it.
You decide who gets custody of your children.
The document serves as an informed decision that you have appointed a trusted person as the legal guardian of your minor child/children if ever you pass away unexpectedly. It ensures that your child/children are in good hands and raised by someone you know. Not having a Last Will and Testament prompts the court to select from a family member or a state-appointed guardian for your child/children.
You speed up the probate process.
A signed and notarized Last Will and Testament still needs to undergo the probate process. However, having this document ready speeds up the probate process. That’s because you’re informing the court through writing about your estate’s beneficiaries and how much each gets. The probate court will be the ones administering your estate.
Without a will (known as dying “intestate”), the court gets to decide on how they will divide your estate, which always causes long and unnecessary delays due to disputes from beneficiaries.
You reduce your estate taxes.
Prominent business families usually draft their Last Will and Testaments early to minimize the estate taxes they’re paying. The value given to beneficiaries (family members or charitable institutions) reduces the value of one’s estate when the tax-paying day comes.
You decide who gets to be the executor.
Executors have the most critical role in administering the estate of a dearly departed. They are the ones who will ensure your intended desires are followed, including paying off bills, canceling subscriptions and your credit cards, and notifying financial institutions of your passing. It is essential that you appoint an honest, trustworthy, and organized executor, even if it means not choosing from a family member.
You can make gifts or donations.
Last Wills can also allow your legacy to continue by supporting your values and interests through gifts and donations to your intended charity or institutions. Gifts that do not exceed $13,000 are excluded from the estate tax, increasing your heirs’ and beneficiaries’ estate value. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to know the latest laws regarding gift tax exclusions.
You can revise it any time.
The good thing about drafting a Last Will and Testament early in your life is that you can revise it at any time, depending on your life situation. People go through different significant moments of life, such as the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, or divorce, prompting a change in your Last Will accordingly.
Life is full of uncertainty.
Not accepting death as part of life is the most common reason people don’t consider drafting a last will. They usually realize the importance of having wills late in their lives or when an unfortunate event happens — disability due to natural causes or accidents.
Drafting this document early in life avoids the added stress on your loved ones during your demise.
Discussing death while you’re still in a healthy condition means you want your loved ones to have peace of mind when you pass away and avoid conflicts that can jeopardize the family’s relationship for generations. Having a will makes things easy as courts will simply execute everything you put into writing.
Drafting your last will is undoubtedly overwhelming, but think of the ones you will leave behind due to your untimely passing as the reason for you to prepare your will early.