A sluggish economy has incentivized people to do their own home repairs, cook for themselves more and perform other tasks that in a more vibrant economy might not be necessary. Unfortunately, as part this trend, many individuals are using cookie-cutter, out-of-the-box wills and will programs to plan for their heirs and beneficiaries when they pass away.
Rarely do these DIY wills provide anything like what you intend.
Attorney-drafted wills are not just for millionaires concerned about federal and state estate taxes. Estate taxes are commonly referred to as an inheritance tax or a death tax and only apply to individuals with more than five million dollars (Federal) or one million dollars (State of Massachusetts). So they do not apply to many people. But, what if you have loaned children money, want a child to be able to continue to live in your home, don’t like their spouse, have a disabled child or a child unable to manage their own finances? These are things important to most people.
Everyone has a valued possession they’d like to see given to a particular beneficiary: A baseball card collection to a nephew, for example, or antique furniture to a granddaughter. Rarely are a person’s intentions carried out with a poorly drafted will, no will or with a pre-drafted will found on the Internet. As diverse as each person’s life and accumulations are, so too must each individual provide a custom will to carry out your wishes.
Wills do not just designate who receives property. They can also designate when an heir receives property. For example, your will can provide a trust for an heir, so that the beneficiary does not receive more money than he or she is capable of handling. Imagine leaving your hard-earned savings to an 18-year-old! But that is exactly what happens without proper estate planning. A well drafted will can leave money in a trust so that an heir only receives money when he or she graduates from college, for example, or to be used in the purchase of a home.
Wills Aren’t Just About Money A will reduces the potential for beneficiaries to argue over money and property. But other factors must be considered in a will. Who will provide care to your minor children in the event of your death? Have you planned in case your spouse remarries so your inheritance does not go to someone else’s family? A will is a diverse legal document that can ensure your wishes are carried out.
Thinking about our mortality and what happens after we pass away is uncomfortable. But sticking your head in the sand and thinking you are not going to die is crazy! Have a qualified attorney-written will that provides for your loved ones after death. Contact a skilled estate planning attorney to ensure your will is up to date or to have your first will created for you.