Most adults should have a Will – which is generally the first document considered in an individual’s Estate Plan. If you die without a Will, the State will decide how your property is distributed. Without a Will, a judge could decide who raises your children. You can also prevent your loved ones from getting into disputes over your possessions by making your wishes clear in a Will.
Some of the following family situations probably apply to you:
Married With Minor Children
If your spouse predeceases you, who do you want to have custody of your minor children? A Guardian would be responsible for raising and caring for them. Do you want the same or a different person to be Conservator? The roles of a Guardian and Conservator are very different. Simply stated: a Guardian makes the day-to-day decisions of raising the children, and the Conservator administers and accounts for any property owned by or on behalf of your minor children.
Have you thought through and discussed business succession plans for your family-owned business? Your heirs could lose a sizeable portion of your estate to settlement costs; but you can lessen this shrinkage through trusts, gifts, and other strategies.
Do you think your estate is too small to warrant a Will? According to Phoenix estate planning attorney Anthony R. Iniguez, “Age or the size of your estate should not be the primary factors in deciding whether or not to draw up a Will. The question you really want to ask is, ‘Do I want a say in who receives my property?’ If you do not specify who gets your property, the State will.”
Do you have a net worth in excess of $2 million? If so, estate planning can help you reduce your estate taxes and leave more of your assets to your loved ones.
Who gets Grandma’s plate? More often than not, if there are disputes, it’s over the smaller items that have sentimental value. These conflicts can often be avoided by clearly outlining your wishes in a Will.
Would you like to support a worthy charity or school after your death? There are several types of gifts which can accomplish this objective as well as provide tax and income benefits to you and your family.
What if you are incapacitated? If you cannot care for yourself, who do you want to make decisions about your medical care? If you cannot manage your financial affairs, who should? These decisions can be outlined in Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney. You may also want to consider a Living Will which allows you to state exactly what your desires are regarding medical life support.