Even the most basic estate plans include a last will and testament. A simple will is relatively easy to draft if you understand the basics. Without a last will and testament, the decision as to who gets your property will be left to the laws of intestate succession in your state. If you have minor children, the court will also determine who will raise them if they are still minors when you die. Let our Louisville estate planning lawyer help you draft your will.
The basic requirements for drafting a will
A will needs to specify who should receive your property, as well as name a guardian to care for your minor children in the event of your death. Finally, your will should name the person who will serve as executor. That is the person who will have the authority and responsibility to carry out the terms of your will. Beyond these basics, there are many other options available, so discuss your needs with our Louisville estate planning lawyer.
When would a basic will be sufficient?
There are some situations where a basic will may be sufficient to meet your needs. If you have very limited assets which are owned in your name only, and you intend to leave those assets to your closest living relative, then a simple will may be fine to meet those purposes. However, a simple last will and testament is not necessarily a good idea when a client has considerable assets that are more complicated in nature, as well as various types of beneficiaries of family issues.
You must be competent to create even simple wills
Although a basic will may be easy to draft, it is important to remember that not everyone has the legal competency to execute one. If the person executing a will, known as the testator, does not have the required legal capacity, the will may not be valid. A common misconception many people have is that suffering from a mental illness or disease automatically means you lack the required mental capacity.
If it can be shown that the testator is having periods of lucidity, they may still be competent to sign a will during one of those periods. Millions of people are suffering from dementia. If they were able to engage in proper estate planning before the symptoms began they may still be able to create a will. If you or a loved one has dementia or another mental illness that affects your legal capacity, it may not be too late. It is wise to consult a Louisville estate planning lawyer to determine whether a potential testator meets the criteria to be considered competent.
You can still create a will despite temporary incapacity
In many situations, legal incapacity may only be temporary. When the medical condition or trauma that caused incapacity has been resolved, that individual’s legal capacity can be restored. For instance, intoxication is a temporary condition that causes legal incapacity, which is resolved once the person becomes sober.
Another example is the incompetency of a minor, which ends when the person reaches the age of majority. A medical condition such as a coma or a state of unconsciousness can also be temporary. Once the person recovers from that condition, his or her ability to make decisions can also return.
Wills are not only for wealthy seniors
Another common misconception is that wills are only for wealthy seniors who are about to retire. That could not be farther from the truth. Regardless of your wealth or age, everyone has an estate, so everyone needs a will. Your estate includes personal property, bank accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and real estate. All of these assets need to be disposed of at your death and you can do that through your will.
If you don’t have a will, however, the probate court will make all of those decisions for you regarding who gets your property after your death. Most clients would rather make all of those decisions for themselves. Creating a will is the easiest way to do that. Let our Louisville estate planning lawyer help.
You need a will even if your estate is small
It is not uncommon for clients to have just a few possessions, but no home or vehicle. Those clients often believe that there is no reason to create a will. But, there are other considerations such as personal possessions that have sentimental value for you and others. Another consideration, aside from the size of your estate, is who should serve as your child’s guardian if they are still minors when you pass away.
If you have questions regarding your last will and testament or any other estate planning matters, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Gersh Law Offices, P.S.C. for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (502) 423-7023. We are here to help!