A will is an important and useful legal expression of your wishes at your death. With a will, you decide who will receive your money, possessions and property. Without a will, your money, possessions and property will be divided according to the state laws, but that division could be contrary to what you would have wanted.
You, the maker of the will must be 18 years of age. You must be of sound mind at the time you sign your will. The will should be in writing and signed by you in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the will.
If you die without a will, your property will be divided in certain proportions among certain relatives. A will is also necessary if any of your money is going to a charity, or to someone who is not included in the group of relatives. A will can also provide that distribution of assets that can be delayed until a later time, such as when a child reaches a certain age.
A will also allows you to name your executor, the person who will see that your estate is handled according to your wishes. It is best to choose an executor for yourself. If you do not, the court will appoint an administrator after you die.
You may also use a will to name a guardian to care for your minor children in the event of both you and your spouse. In some states, children are considered minors until they are 18 years of age. A guardian is customarily responsible for seeing to minor children’s well being. You can name different people to care for the child, known as the guardian of the person. You should as the people you name in your will if they are willing to serve before drawing up your will, and should nominate substitutes to act if something happens to your first choice.
Your will may also direct that a trust be created at the time of your death. A trust offers two important benefits. First, a trust may reduce estate taxes and costs. Second, a trust may provide financial assistance and management for a beneficiary.
A properly drawn will can ensure that your property goes where you want it to go.