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Wills and Inheritance: How Do They Work?

Are you in the process of creating a will for your loved ones? Are you unsure if you need a will or how wills and inheritances affect the estate settlement process? Having a will highlights your last dying wishes for your funeral and such, and it also explains who receives what when you pass away.

To ensure that your loved ones don’t have a hard time deciphering what you wanted before you passed away, you may want to consider creating a will. Continue reading below to learn more about wills and inheritance and who you can contact for more information about protecting your legacy.

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal document that explains your final wishes for distributing property and care for your children. Without a will, your loved ones will have difficulty figuring out what property goes where and who gets what.

Why Should I Have a Will?

An excellent reason to have a will is so you can be clear about who in your family receives what asset and how much. This also prevents your assets from getting into the wrong hands like an estranged relative.

Additional reasons to get a will:

  • Your beneficiaries will have an easier time accessing your assets
  • You can give gifts or other charitable donations

Contrary to popular belief, wills aren’t only reserved for the rich or people with complicated investments and other assets. Instead, anyone can create a will to let their families know about their final wishes.

What Is Inheritance?

It is imperative that you have a will in place, especially if you plan on leaving behind an inheritance. When you pass away, and there is no living spouse, your survivors receive your assets through an inheritance. This is typically a cash endowment given to children or other family members.

For this process to begin, your estate must send the will to probate. The probate court will review the will, enact an executor, and transfers the assets to the rightful beneficiaries. Before your survivors receive their portion of the share, your executor must settle any debts you owe first.

Inheritance without a Will

As mentioned earlier, the process becomes more complicated if there is no will outlining your estate plans. In this case, a probate court will do its best to carry out your final wishes.

If there are any listed beneficiaries on any of your accounts, such as a bank account or brokerage account, the court will allow those listed beneficiaries to receive those funds. Items like heirlooms, real estate, gold, jewelry, or other property are harder to allocate.

The court will need to appoint someone as an executor over your estate to disseminate your property adequately. In this event, the process of settling could take months, if not years, if your beneficiaries cannot come to a conclusion.

Making a Will

If you plan on making a will for your family, you may not want to go at that alone. Sure, you can use websites to outline your wishes, but you should reach out to a reputable attorney to help you through the process. They will be able to help you properly sort out your assets and create a strategy that will reduce your tax liability.

If you decide to go at it alone, you will just need to draft your document and have it witnessed by someone else. Usually, you will need to bring two adults with sound minds who you are relatively familiar with.

Some states require the will to be notarized before it becomes valid. Keep in mind that if you go this route and you’ve never written a will before, there is a high chance there could be mass confusion and errors when the time comes to distribute your assets.

Prepare Your Will

Before you meet with your attorney, there are a few lists you should compile. First, you should compile a list of your debts and assets.

Be sure to include information about your family heirlooms, safe deposit boxes, and other assets that you wish to transfer to a specific person or organization. If you already have a plan on what property you wish to leave to certain people, write that down as well.

Where Should I Keep the Will?

When it comes time to distribute your property, the probate court will need an official and original copy of your will. Up until that day comes, you should keep the will somewhere safe.

A bank safety deposit box may sound like a great place to store it, but it is not. In the event that your loved ones need to go get the will, they may need a court order to gain access first. Instead, you can use a waterproof and fireproof safe in your house as an alternative.

Wills and Inheritance Assistance

The last thing anyone wants is to leave their loved ones confused about what to do with their assets. Not only will your loved ones spend months in court trying to figure out who gets what, but they also may not receive what you may have reserved only for them.

To combat all of this, you can create a will that highlights every bit of your wishes. Of course, if at any point you need to change your will, you can do so with the help of your reputable attorney. If you need more information about wills and inheritance and how you can create the best plan for your legacy, contact us.

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