People encounter several legal documents when doing estate planning, including a last will and testament. This official paper states what will happen to a person’s estate after they pass away. A person’s estate will include the assets they leave behind, such as money, property, and possessions.
Testators who will leave minor children can also appoint guardians when writing their last will and testament. Essentially, it’s a comprehensive plan that a person prepares while they are alive to determine what will happen to their estate after they die. Here’s a closer look at what a last will and testament is and how it works.
Can a Person Write a Last Will & Testament Alone?
Will writing is a fairly simple process that anyone can do without the help of a lawyer. Regardless, having an estate planning attorney around for consultation will be beneficial. These legal experts know how to navigate the estate administration process.
Wills and testaments must undergo the process before the court executes them. Anyone doing estate planning would be wise to consult with an estate planning attorney before finalizing their last will and testament.
What Happens When a Person Dies Without a Will?
If an individual dies without a will, it’s called intestate. The estate will still go through probate, and state intestacy laws will determine how the court will distribute the estate’s assets. This process can be more complicated and cause delays, as there is no estate plan in place.
Perhaps the deceased was confident in the court’s decisions and believed that it would distribute their estate fairly. However, intestate estate distribution does not always reflect what the deceased would have wanted.
Who Needs a Last Will & Testament?
Illinois law states that anyone can bequeath their real and personal estate upon death, granted that they are over the age of 18 and are of sound mind and memory. Accordingly, if a person wants to have a say in what will happen to their estate upon death, they should consider writing a last will and testament.
Once a person has decided to write a will, they must take the time to sit down and think about what they want to include in it. With an estate planning attorney on their side, they can easily determine what assets to include and how to best distribute them.
What Type of Will Does a Person Need?
Testators are in unique situations that will require an appropriate will to match suit their needs. Here is an overview of the standard types of wills.
Simple wills are direct and effective. These wills can include basic clauses that assign executors to ensure the court meets the stated conditions and distributes assets per the testator’s request.
Two people create joint wills, often a married couple. The estate will go to the surviving spouse first before any other beneficiaries as stipulated in the last will and testament.
Living wills are estate planning documents that state an individual’s wishes regarding end-of-life medical care. Testators can use these documents to appoint a healthcare proxy, which is someone who will make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so.
TESTAMENTARY TRUST WILL
Testamentary trust wills are estate planning documents that establish one or multiple trusts. This type of will is beneficial for testators who want to minimize estate taxes and protect assets from creditors.
Last Will vs. Trust
Last wills are quite similar to trusts in estate planning. Both tools are essential for transferring assets and estate. However, last wills become active once the testator dies while a trust is active as soon as a person creates it.
In addition, a last will goes through probate court while a trust does not. Probate is a legal process that validates a will and estate planning and goes on the public record. Thus, trusts usually do not become public.
Get an Estate Planning Attorney To Help With Your Last Will & Testament
Writing a last will and testament will ensure that you have control over your estate upon death. Once you are ready to write your will, be sure to consult with an estate planning attorney. They will help you determine what assets to include and how to best distribute them.
Consider speaking with the legal experts at Albers Law Firm. We take the time to help you understand your options and ensure your heirs and beneficiaries receive what you want them to obtain. Discuss your situation with our legal experts today.