Going Back To The Basics – What Is A Will?
The best estate planning tip in Manhattan that you can get is to create a last will and testament before it is too late. As one of the most important building blocks of an estate plan, this document can ensure your legacy is passed onto your kids and descendants according to your wishes after your passing.
While the extent of its effectiveness is determined by the estate plan you put into place, deciding to create a last will and testament is the best step you can take to protect your hard earned assets and see that they go to deserving beneficiaries.
Legal Requirements of a Will
To make a will in the US, you cannot forego the following legal requirements:
- Create a document that names beneficiaries for some of your assets.
Be aware of the property you currently have and what it would mean to the beneficiary you are leaving it to. This is necessary for the court to ensure that you are of sound mind while making decisions pertaining to asset distribution
- Sign the document personally and get it signed by 2 witnesses as well.
- The will has to be free of mistakes and should not be made under duress or undue influence.
Contents of a Will
A typical should include the following details to be deemed valid:
- The name and details about the guardian for any minor children you have.
- Instructions for how and when the assets are to be distributed to beneficiaries.
- Names and details about beneficiaries who are inheriting the assets.
- Name of the executor i.e. the individual who will manage asset distribution and probation of the will.
Importance of Naming Beneficiaries in a WillIn case assets are move outside the will and probate process, a beneficiary can challenge terms and win. In other words, he/she would receive the asset rather than others and it may not have to go through probate either. To ensure this doesn’t happen, while you are estate planning in Manhattan, name each beneficiary on valid assets such as a savings account, IRAs, 401(k)s etc with consent from your spouse if any.Assets are distributed according to how they are titled. If you have assets that do not allow naming of beneficiaries (such as real estate), you can still designate who receives them in the will and include any special instructions you may have for them. Others which can be mentioned directly in the will (such as investment accounts) carry more weight.
Irrespective of the will you create through an estate planning attorney in Manhattan, it has to meet state laws and regulations to be deemed valid and enforceable. Otherwise, it will be like you left no will at all.
Drafting a WillA will should ideally be drawn up a lawyer and your beneficiaries or heirs should be familiar with the contents. Doing so yourself is not a good idea because you may not be aware of state laws and standards that can affect how it is enforced, if at all. Getting it reviewed by a lawyer can ensure the will is free of costly errors and can pass probate.Before heading to an estate planning lawyer in Manhattan, bring documentation that detail and provide proof for all of your assets. This includes details on how you paid for them, deeds and other information that prove you own them. Also bring a list detailing intangible assets such as investments, bank account information, mutual fund information and also details on debt you have.
Most people forget to do this, but make sure that you also provide the names and contact information about your broker, lawyer or any professionals that you want your executor to look up if needed. That way, they can cross check the contents of the will and prove its authenticity if it is challenged.
What Happens If You Don’t Draft a Will
If you pass away without creating and validating a will, the state might distribute your assets according to specific formulas. In such cases, most of the time the estate is split in half with one half going to the spouse and the other to the children of the deceased. This can have a negative effect on the former who may not be able to maintain his/her standard of living afterwards.
The bottom line is that by creating a last will and testament while estate planning in Manhattan, you can ensure that your hard earned property and money goes to the people who deserve them.