Understanding Wills & Estate Planning

Formally known as a last will and testament, a will is an important component of planning any estate properly. A will is a legal document which serves to allocate a person’s assets, finances, and property upon their death.

Estate planning is not a “one size fits all” process. Each person and situation is unique, requiring careful and diligent estate planning. Different types of wills have been established to help cater to these differences. Here is a list of four of the most common types of wills:

  • Simple Will
  • Testamentary Trust Will
  • Joint Will
  • Living Will

Following the payment of any debts charged to one’s estate, it will be time to distribute property according to the will. An executor will read and distribute property in accordance with the will. Once all necessary property has been liquidated to settle any outstanding debts, the remainder of the assets will be granted to the beneficiary of the will. In some cases, there will be more than one beneficiary.

Unfortunately, it is very common for hopeful beneficiaries to perpetrate a rouse or scam to attempt to fraudulently gain access to the will’s property. Common will fraud perpetrators include relatives, caregivers, and close friends. There are common warning signs to watch out for that indicate the possibility that will fraud has occurred. Here are some of the most common warning signs to keep an eye out for to help prevent will fraud:

  • Large sums of money or property are missing from the estate.
  • An additional and often unfitting person’s name will appear on bank accounts
  • When a relative assumes the executor position of the will but bills remain unpaid
  • Someone that is overly concerned or even anxious with regard to their personal finances

A last will and testament is an important document for anyone with any possession worth value to have. While it is commonly thought of as something not needed until the last phases of life, a will is a valuable document even in your twenties. What many people fail to realize is that in some cases when there is no will, the estate may be seized in its entirety by the state government.

An estate attorney is an invaluable resource in guiding and advising about wills and estate planning. They can also assist in legalizing a will and executing it upon death. It is always best to use a professional and experienced estate attorney in establishing a will to ensure that all of the “t’s” are crossed, and all “i’s” have been dotted.