Lake Tahoe Attorney Blog

26Jun, 14

A will is legal paperwork that will allow an attorney to make sure your final wishes are met for your family.  A will can be used for many things like naming guardians for your children, division of assets among those family members that are still alive and even to make sure your family knows how you want to be buried.  Wills are not the end all be all when it comes to how your money and assets are going to be distributed throughout the family or other organizations, however, it will play a large part in how that all works out.  Beneficiaries, insurance policies and other assets can be looked at before the will is considered so you want to make sure that you have everything in order.  If you need to update a will, you should do so right away to ensure your final wishes are met.

Some might have one person on an insurance policy, but later in life realize they do not want them on it.  From that point, if the policy is not updated to reflect that you do not want that person listed as a beneficiary, a will cannot change that later in life.  If the person is never taken from the paperwork, there will be no change when the person passes along.  A will can also be used to make sure that you have someone that you trust taking care of your estate after you die.  Naming an executor, or the person in charge, is an important step and can keep things from getting out of hand should the family not be able to decide on what happens with property and assets.  Because there are many things that are required of this person, it is important that you trust them completely.

Executor of a will should be able to take on tasks like distribution of your property, filing your last tax returns and processing any claims that come through from creditors.  If you have a person in mind, also make sure that you ask them so they are aware of the large responsibility they will have once you pass.  Because wills are very important, it is good to know what you will be getting yourself into right from the start.  That includes all of the costs involved with creating a will.  There are many places that you can get a simple will template online, but when it comes down to making sure that all of the details are discussed, a lawyer is the best option.  Because lawyers can cost hundreds of dollars per hour, you should be prepared to spend a thousand dollars or more once it is all said and done.

Planning an estate and getting a will designed to protect assets can cost a lot of money, but it will also pay for itself in the end based on reduced taxes and other related costs.  Depending on when in life you decided to get everything planned for your estate, you might live a long time with that document in place.  Because many things can change during a person’s life, it is smart to make sure that you review your will each year.  If you have someone listed in your will and they die, you are going to want to take some time to review it at that point as well.  Things like changes in the tax code, real estate purchases or a major financial decision can also be reasons to review what you have planned for your estate.

You should also know what happens when you die without a will in place.  This is known as “inestate” and basically means that you have no control over what happens to your assets or where they go.  Most of your assets could end up in “probate” and that is a long legal process often avoided at all costs.  Probate will ultimately be what decides where you assets go and who they go to after you die.  If you are still asking yourself if you need a will, the answer is “yes”.  There are few reasons why you would not want to create a will to make sure that your final wishes are followed through with.

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