We all know how important it is to have an estate plan in place; yet, over half of all Americans do not have one. There are an infinite number of reasons and explanations people give as to why they have yet to create an estate plan, or at least execute a basic Last Will and Testament. One common reason, however, is that the decisions that must be made when creating a Last Will and Testament are not easy to make. Whether you have amassed a small fortune or a modest estate, the assets that make up your estate matter to you. Deciding who you want to have those assets when you are gone may not be easy. It may be equally difficult to make other decisions that must be made when creating your Will, such as who to appoint as Executor or who to nominate as Guardian of your minor children. The need to make tough decisions in your Last Will and Testament is one of the many reasons why you should work closely with an experienced California estate planning attorney when creating your Will.
The Foundation of Your Estate Plan – Your Last Will and Testament
Your Last Will and Testament is likely the first estate planning document you will create, making it the foundation for your comprehensive estate plan. For some people, a Will remains their entire estate plan; however, most people go on to add additional estate planning tools and strategies to their Will in an effort to achieve a wide range of estate planning goals and objectives. A Will can distribute your entire estate though, making it one of the most important documents you will sign during the course of your lifetime. Whether your Will acts as the foundation of your estate plan, or the entire plan, the decisions you make in your Last Will and Testament will have a direct and lasting impact on your beneficiaries and heirs.
Deciding Who to Appoint as Executor of Your Estate
Although most people do not realize it, one of the most important decisions you will make in your Last Will and Testament is deciding who to appoint as the Executor of your estate. People frequently pay very little attention to this decision. Instead, they simply fill in the name of a spouse, family member, or friend without giving the matter much thought. The Executor of your estate, however, is responsible for overseeing the probate of your estate. As such, you Executor has a number of important, and often difficult, duties and responsibilities. The right Executor can lead to an efficient and cost-effective estate administration. The wrong Executor can cause the probate process to take much longer than necessary and result in a depletion of estate assets as a result of unnecessary probate related expenses.
Nominating a Guardian for Your Minor Children
Most people are unaware that your Last Will and Testament is the only opportunity you will have to nominate a Guardian for your minor child in the event one is ever needed. Do not miss the chance to tell a judge who you would want to take over the care of your children if you are no longer around to care for them yourself.
Distributing Your Estate Assets
Distributing estate assets is what most people envision when they think of creating a Last Will and Testament. Deciding who will receive your assets can certainly be difficult. Deciding how and when your beneficiaries should receive those assets can be equally difficult. If you have children, must you divide your estate equally, even if you have reasons not to do so? Who should receive the family heirlooms? Should your assets be sold and the profits split among your beneficiaries or should you gift specific assets? These are just a few of the difficult questions you will likely need to answer when creating your own Last Will and Testament.
How an Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
Having an experienced California estate planning attorney to consult with during the creation and execution of your Last Will and Testament will make it easier to make these difficult decisions and ensure that the Will you create and execute is properly drafted and correctly reflects your wishes.
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