Five Top Reasons to Make A Will
TOP 5 REASONS TO MAKE/UPDATE WILLS
by Mahesh I. Patel, Attorney at Law
A wise law professor once told me, death does not discriminate for it applies equally to the very young and the very old and everyone in between. Hence, it is always wise to consider making a Will and or updating a previously executed Will. Here are my top five reasons for doing so:
- It is important to set aside the notion that NOT having a Will results in the assets being transferred to the State of Texas or your state of residence. This is simply not true. There are “intestate” statutes that allow for transfer of assets in the absence of a Will. However, the statutory provision is very inflexible, particularly where the deceased has been married more than once and more so when there are children from both marriages. A Will, therefore, allows you to name specific individuals that you want to receive your hard earned money upon your death. You could also exclude certain individuals from receiving any or all of your assets.
- For parents of children under 18 years of age, a Will allows you to designate Guardians for your minor children. In this highly mobile world, one must plan for the possibility of both parents passing away in a common incident, such as a car accident. A Guardian is able to take custody of the minor child and perform the most basic duties of a parent, such as taking the children to school, making healthcare decisions, etc. In the absence of naming a Guardian, a court will appoint a Guardian; this process can be time consuming and expensive. It may also result in a Guardian being appointed who has little or no connection with the child or may not share the same values and beliefs that you do.
A Will is imperative to distribute your assets to the people who you want to receive your assets upon your death. A Will should be updated to reflect change in family circumstance. This may include a divorce or a death. While the law automatically negates bequests to a divorced spouse, it may not do the same for his or her relatives Moreover, a Will can be used to provide for distribution of your assets in the event none of the immediate family members survive the other. Rather than rely on a rigid distribution scheme under the state laws, you can designate that your assets should be passed on to certain individuals or charitable organizations. Moreover, a Will ensures that future generations of your family will be guided by your values, beliefs and ideals.
A Will allows for the creation of “Testamentary Trusts” whereby distributions to minors, other incapacitated children (including disabled adult children) or individuals with bad financial or business sense, may be delayed until a certain age. This can be accomplished by appointing a Trustee to manage and safeguard the assets according to your instructions.
A Will allows for tax planning to avoid or minimize federal estate taxes by establishing a credit shelter/bypass trusts and marital deduction utilizing the new $5,000,000.00 amount (in effect until end of 2012). The funds in the Trusts can be utilized by the surviving spouse and passed on estate tax free to future generations.