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Wills and Estates

A will is vital to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out. A will a legal document used to distribute personal property, real property, money, and particular items to the intended beneficiaries. A will helps you protect items of family or sentimental value from being sold in the estate administration process. It allows you to name an executor who will administer your estate and see that all the provisions and stipulations of your last wishes are carried out in an orderly fashion. Generally, for a will to be valid you must sign it in the presence of two witnesses who can attest to your signature.

Without a will, a deceased’s property will be distributed according the state intestacy statute, which vary by state, or may escheat (be forfeited to) the state. This may take longer and cost more than if there is a will, and can also mean that your possessions and belongings may not be distributed as you would have wished. Your estate might wind up being administered by a total stranger appointed by the court. A will is the only way to ensure that your loved ones and favorite charities aren’t deprived of your generosity.

Even if you are married, living with a partner or have children, it is wrong to assume that they will automatically receive your estate should you die. For example, suppose you die in a car wreck caused by a drunk driver. Even if you have no assets, your estate might have a wrongful death suit that recovers millions, all of which will be divided up by the state if there’s no will. Should both parents of a child or children die without a will, a court-appointed guardian takes custody of any minor children and of the parents’ estate.

Other advantages of making a will, among others, include:

-It is only through making a will that you can choose individuals you trust to act as your own personal representatives, who will take charge of your estate, wind it up and distribute it according to your wishes.
-With a will, you may make arrangements for the guardianship of any dependent children and so ensure that they are cared for as you would have wished.
-Many people also use their will to give specific instructions for their burial, cremation, or possibly for the donation of organs for medical research.
-A will also can avoid tax consequences that may result in its absence. A properly prepared will can greatly reduce estate tax liability.
-A will can save your family from the burdens of intestate distribution procedures and avoid family disputes