Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The 5 goals of a will
Posted by Lynne Butler
Your will speaks for you once you have passed away. The will document itself is the final step in your estate plan, because it should document the discussions, planning and arrangements that preceded it. By the time your will is signed, you should already have touched on any steps that support your will, such as setting up any beneficiary designations, or perhaps buying life insurance, as your circumstances require.
The following are the five goals your will document should achieve:
1. Putting a qualified, trustworthy executor and trustee in place to administer your estate after your death. Put some thought into who this should be, and unless you're naming a trust company, remember to name a second choice to act if the first choice cannot act.
2. Looking after minor children by naming a guardian, setting up trusts for their inheritance, and ensuring there will be funds available for the child's needs while the money is held in trust.
3. Directing where your assets should go after your death. This may mean giving instructions for setting up trusts, or donating to charity. Don't forget to deal with household and personal items.
4. Ensuring that your executor and trustee have all of the instructions, permissions and authority needed to carry out your wishes. Lack of appropriate executor's powers in the will may well result in delays and extra costs as your executor seeks permission from beneficiaries or from the courts.
5. Avoiding legal challenges and disputes among family members. Your will should be clear and comprehensive. It should address any potential problem areas such as dependent's relief type of claim. It may also explain unusual or seemingly unfair gifts, such as an unequal distribution among children. It should never require your executor or family members to guess or read between the lines.
These are lofty goals for a legal document, but with care and forethought, your will should be able to achieve all of these for you.