A will is a set of instructions on how to distribute your property and assets after you pass. Because a will can cover property distribution, it can contain the names of the people you would like to give your property to. These people named in your will are called beneficiaries.
1. Give your loved ones exactly what you want to
A will allows you not only to name those who you’d like to give your stuff to, but also what exactly you wish to give them. In this part of your estate plan, you can specify which belongings you’d like to give and an exact amount or percentage of your assets you’d like to give to those you’ve named.
2. To make sure your evil cousin doesn’t get your stuff
Usually if you pass away without a will, the state will not take your stuff. If you pass away intestate (without a will), the state will distribute your property according to the rules of “intestate succession.” Every state has a set of these rules, which direct what happens to property when someone dies without a will and the property was not left another way. They usually distribute it to your closest family. If there is someone close to you in your bloodline that you don’t wish to receive your belongings or assets, you should make this intention clear in your will. Otherwise, you risk leaving them part of your estate after you pass.
3. Make sure your best friend gets your pictures and memorabilia
The opposite is true of your friends. When you die without a will, your friends cannot receive anything from your estate. You should name friends in your will if you want them to receive something you’re your estate after you pass.
4. To make sure St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital gets a donation
The same is true of charities. Unless you name a charities in your will or other similar device, none of your assets will go to them.
5. Make sure the state doesn’t get your stuff
It is very sad to think about, but every year U.S. states collect unclaimed property of its citizens who pass away. As of 2015, California had accumulated unclaimed properties that are worth over $7.2 billion. If you don’t have any family, or if the state doesn’t recognize them as family (such as a close friend the feels like a brother), then your estate escheats. In other words, all your property and assets are transferred to the state. Nothing will go to friends or charities unless you name them in your will or other similar mechanism.
A will is just one document you need to ensure your wishes are met. A will is just one part of your Estate Plan, not the entire thing. An estate plan includes more than a list of who gets what. It is the entire set of directions as to how your property, assets, and money should be handled both before and after you pass. An estate plan includes a power of attorney, and trusts for your beneficiaries should you want one.
If you would like to create an Estate Plan or have questions about the process or effects of your will, please schedule an appointment with Boyer Law Firm today. We are a wills and trusts firm dedicated to giving all your wishes proper legal force.