There are many choices to make in estate planning. When deciding whether you need a Will, it's helpful to consider the provisions you want to make.
Why should you consider having a Will?
A formally executed Will, drafted by a competent attorney, allows you to distribute your property to the persons and/or entities you desire (including your revocable living trust, if you have one).
In addition to property distribution, there are several other provisions you can make in your will:
- Name a guardian for any minor children you may have
- Appoint a a personal representative of your estate to handle any legal matters, including litigation that your estate requires
- Set up testamentary trusts so that your property does not have to be distributed immediately upon your death (such trust might be for young grandchildren or others incapable of wise decisions with respect to the property they inherit)
- Leave money to charitable institutions or relatives other than set forth by a state interstate statute
- Provide for children from a prior marriage or disinherit anyone you want
- Specify your wishes and desires so that there is no doubt among your survivors as to your intentions
Why shouldn't everyone use a Will to distribute their estate?
In some cases, a Will might not be the best choice for you and your loved ones because of the complexity it can add when the time comes to distribute your property:
- A Will is subject to probate—the Court-supervised process of distributing your property—and this involves unnecessary time and expense.
- Oral instructions to your heirs are not effective to transfer title to assets. (In other words, simply telling your heirs your wishes or what to do won't be sufficient.)
- Written instructions in a Will may not be effective if not prepared in accordance with certain statutory requirements.
If you would like help drafting a will or deciding which estate planning documents are right for you, please contact me for a consultation.
Grayson P. Van Horn is an attorney at law serving Oklahoma residents and property owners.
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