Your Will

You Need a Will
Parents Have a Duty to Have a current Will prepared.

If you own or may own property, or if you have children, you need a will. Except for property you own jointly with another, with the right of survivorship, your property will become what is called your estate. Even jointly held property must be dealt with in preparing death tax returns. If you die without a will, the State will decide who gets your property, how, and when.

For example, if you have a spouse and children, your real estate will go to the children, although your spouse will have a lifetime right to half of the income from the property. The rest of your property will be divided one-third to your spouse, and the remainder to your children. The world can become a topsy-turvey place where the children are well off, and their mother must seek support from them.

Your spouse will most likely be appointed administrator of your estate but will have to expend some of your estate to purchase a bond to ensure that he or she properly carries out the law. If your spouse has died ahead of you, there could be a dispute over who will administer your estate.

Parents Have a Duty to Have a Will

For parents with minor children, making a will is their duty regardless of the amount of their estate. Should both parents die without wills there could be unseemly contests over the guardianship of the children. The parents estate will be divided among the children, and bonds will have to be purchased. Each child will receive his share when he reaches age eighteen even though he may not have the maturity to manage the property. During their minority it may be that one of the children will need more support than his brothers or sisters. He may have been injured and may require special educational requirements. It could be difficult to obtain the funds necessary for his support. A special needs trust may be called for in such circumstance.

These problems can be substantially solved if the parents will draw wills. Although the court has the ultimate responsibility for selecting guardians, the parents choice is hardly ever denied. A trustee for the childrenís property can be nominated and the cost of bonds can be eliminated. The property can be placed in a single trust for the benefit of the children as their needs for support and maintenance require. The distribution can be delayed until the children are mature, and the estate can be conserved for as long as it takes to fulfill he parentsí duty to their youngest children.

Carefully planned, the will can do for the children what the parents would have done for them had they been alive. Their upbringing can be placed in the hands of relatives or friends whom their parents know to have sound judgment and stable, happy homes. Funds for their support and education can be insured. Even though no one and no amount of money can replace them, parents can ease their childrenís misfortune by the single act of executing wills.

Your Old Will Should be Reviewed

If your children are teenagers or older and your will is more than five years old, it is probably time to rethink your plans for the disposition of your property. When they were young, you probably had one overriding concern ñ that everything possible be done to conserve your estate for the benefit of your minor children if your death denied them your support. No doubt, your will reflects this concern.

And too, the value of your property will have increased. Over the past ten years the price of homes has more than doubled in our area. Social security benefits, retirement plan income, and savings accounts have also grown. Now is the time to take stock of your assets and to decide who will receive them and how estate taxes can be minimized.

As children grow toward adulthood they begin to show more interest in property. They may express a desire for particular items which have sentimental value for them. These pieces of property can be given to the people who want them the most and who will most appreciate the gift.

Consider Tax Savings in Larger Estates

In larger estates, important savings of taxes can be made through the use of dual trusts. A program of lifetime and charitable gifts planned in conjunction with the will can further reduce taxes. A properly drafted will can ease the tax burden your beneficiaries will have to bear.

In the end, and regardless of the exact value of your property, you have earned it through your own efforts and perhaps at some considerable sacrifice. It is proper that you show concern for how it will be distributed in the event of your death. This concern can only be met by a well planned and carefully prepared will.