Last Will And Testament
A critical starting point for estate planning is the preparation of a Last Will and Testament.
A will can determine who gets what property in your estate, name an executor, and name a guardian for your minor children. However, it cannot do everything. Wills do not determine the disposition of property that is not part of your probate estate, such as retirement accounts with a named beneficiary or property owned jointly with someone else.
If certain formalities are not met, your will may be deemed invalid and your assets will pass as though one never existed.
Not only do you want your will to meet these basic formalities, but you also want the will to achieve your estate planning goals. When in doubt, it is always better to meet with a North Carolina estate planning attorney before choosing to create a will online on your own.
Most people understand the basic purpose of a Will – to name which beneficiaries receive which assets – but a Will can accomplish so much more:
Appoint a Guardian for Minor Children
A will is typically the perfect tool for naming a guardian to raise and care for your minor children should the unexpected happen to you as a parent. You may also consider appointing a “back-up” or alternate guardian in case the first becomes unable or unwilling to serve.
Present Funeral Wishes
Use your will to lay out your wishes concerning your funeral arrangements. Tell your heirs whether you wish for cremation or burial, where to be buried or have your ashes disbursed, etc. Appropriately define the funeral service itself such as songs, where the service should be held, passages to be read, etc.
Appointing Executor(s) and Trustee(s)
An Executor is the individual you will appoint to carry out your final wishes as set out in the will. The Executor will also be responsible for the administration of your estate and handling your affairs. If a trust is created in the will (see below), a Trustee will need to be appointed who will be in charge of carrying out the instructions of the trust.
Create a Trust
Use your will to create a trust for your minor or financially irresponsible children. A trust created in a will for this purpose gives someone else control and management of the assets for the children until they reach a certain age. Determining the appropriate age often depends on the personal knowledge, expectations, and experience of the individual at the time designating them as a beneficiary. Learn more HERE.