Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

I don’t care how much you think you do or don’t have, or how old or young you think you are, or whether you have children or not. The bottom line is – you need a will. There’s no getting around it.

A will is a legally binding document whereby a person expresses her wishes with regard to her possessions and loved ones. The will is drafted while alive and goes into effect once the drafter (also known as the testator) dies. A will is the preliminary document drafted as a part of any estate plan. A well drafted will should accomplish the following:

·       appoint a representative (and alternates) to administer the estate;

·       appoint guardians for minor children (and their property);

·       specify the powers and restrictions for the named representative(s);

·       dispose of all of testator’s probate property; and,

·       describe the manner in which the distributions shall be made.

Failure to have a will drafted, means all of your assets will be distributed by the laws of intestate succession in your state of residence. The laws vary, but most split the assets and distribute half to the then living spouse and the other half is split equally amongst any then living children. Grandchildren of deceased children of the deceased may receive per stripes or per capita, depending on the rules in your jurisdiction. Per stripes is a fancy way of receiving by representation, so the grandchild would step in the shoes of the child and receive her intestate share.  Whereas, per capita splits what is left to distribute amongst all that are entitled to inherit. Intestate succession does not account for kids that you may not wish to inherit, or other relatives with whom you would not wish to share in your belongings. It simply distributes assets based on a state statute which solely considers lineal heritage.

Make sure your kids are in good hands. The courts have no way of determining who you would want to care for your kids in the event of your death. Why would you leave anyone else to make a decision of this magnitude?

Ensure the details are being worked out by someone you know and trust. Appointing your executor in the will provides you with the confidence that your estate will be administered the way in which you would prefer.

If your estate isn’t made up of a lot, a simple will can likely do the trick. If your assets, liabilities and beneficiaries are a bit more complex, an estate planning attorney is necessary.  Just get it done!

Lerae Funderburg, Esq. is the Managing Attorney at Funderburg Law, LLC, an Atlanta based law firm specializing in estate planning, business and entertainment transactions. As an lawyer and blogger, Lerae keeps her viewers and subscribers up to date with legal news, especially in the areas of business, estate planning, music, copyright law and trademark law. If you are local to Atlanta, call and set up a consultation! She would love to hear from you!

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