What is a will?
A will is a legal document setting forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children in the event of your death. A person who makes a will is known as a testator.
What are the legal requirements of a will?
To ensure the testator’s wishes are carried out, a formal will must be in writing, signed by the testator (who must be mentally competent at the time of signing), and witnessed by two people who must also sign the will.
What is the benefit of hiring a lawyer to help with my will and estate planning?
A lawyer will draft a proper will that clearly lays out your wishes. Hiring a lawyer will provide peace of mind that your will is legally enforceable and will reduce complications for your family after you pass. Our estate planning team will help you protect your family, friends, and property after you are gone.
What is an enduring power of attorney?
If you lose your mental capacity while still alive, your enduring power of attorney will give another person, called your “attorney”, the ability to handle your property and financial affairs on your behalf.
Who should I give my power of attorney?
Your spouse will usually be best suited to be your attorney. If your spouse is unable or unwilling to act as your attorney, a family member or close friend that you trust to act with your best interests in mind is the best choice.
What is a personal directive?
A personal directive is a legal document allowing a trusted individual to make decisions regarding your personal life should you lose the mental capacity to do so. Whereas a power of attorney allows an individual to make your financial decisions while you’re alive and incapacitated, the personal directive allows an individual to make your personal decisions.
What is an executor of a will?
An executor plays an important role in the will of the deceased. The executor will have the legal responsibility to carry out the instructions in the will. This typically includes disposing or transferring of property, paying remaining bills and taxes and ensuring the wishes laid out in the will are fulfilled and the property is distributed properly.
Who should be my executor?
An executor is most commonly a spouse or a child. An executor is a person the individual trusts completely, is diligent, and acts with integrity.
Can a beneficiary in my will be my executor?
Yes. There is nothing preventing an executor from also being a beneficiary, as long as they are not faced with any conflict of interest. If there is any danger that they will not treat all beneficiaries, including themselves, as equals, then you should consider a different executor.
How much does will and estate planning cost?
There is no set rate for estate planning. The cost will vary depending on the complexity and time required to plan your estate.
What does will and estate planning usually include?
When planning for your estate, your trusted estate lawyer will assist you in creating your power of attorney, will, and personal directive.
What do I do with my will once it is complete?
Ensure you have certified or notarized copies and give them to individuals you trust, like your lawyer or executor. Make sure the original copy of the will is kept in a safe place.
How do I cancel my will?
Creating a new will cancels any previous wills. You may also cancel your will with a written statement indicating you wish to do so. Having multiple wills could substantially complicate matters once you pass. To avoid this complexity, it is important to consult a lawyer who will properly guide you in cancelling your will and creating a new one.
How do I change a will?
If you want to alter a provision in your will it may not be necessary to draft an entire new will. Consult your trusted estate lawyer to help make proper amendments to your will and advise when you are better suited to create a new will rather than changing the previous one.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
If you do not have a will, the courts will oversee the distribution of your assets based on a formula. This formula will typically split your assets between your surviving spouse and children. Depending on the title to your house, the formula may require your spouse sell their home and split the proceeds between the rest of your family. Properly planning your estate will avoid any of these unnecessary complications.