You may understand the importance of making out a will as part of an estate plan. A will is a record of your wishes so that, after you die, people will know that they are acting in accordance with what you would have wanted. Because a will preserves your voice and your viewpoint after you are gone, it is helpful for you to be as specific as possible when it comes to expressing your wishes.
So that you can get as much out of your will as possible, you should understand all that it can do for you and your loved ones following your death.
1. Naming an Executor
One of the most important things a will does is to name an executor. This is the individual who will be in charge of managing your estate after you die. This involves overseeing the distribution of your assets and paying off any debts that you leave behind and are not forgiven upon your death.
2. Appointing a Guardian
If you are a parent of minor children, it is important to have a will so that you can appoint a guardian for them in the event that both you and the child’s other parent dies. Even if you have other estate planning documents disposing of your property, a will is the only document in which you can name a guardian in many jurisdictions. If you fail to name a guardian in your will, the court will have no choice but to appoint one of its own, and it may not be the person you would have chosen.
3. Distributing Assets
One of the main functions of a will, and probably that which most people first think of, is distributing your assets among the people whom you name in your will as beneficiaries. Your assets are everything that you own, including both money and property. There are very few limitations on how you can choose to distribute your assets. However, if you fail to make out a will that designates beneficiaries and distributes assets, they will go to your surviving family members according to the laws of intestate succession.
4. Making Donations
In addition to distributing your assets among loved ones, a will is also a way for you to make donations to worthy organizations. For example, you may leave a gift of money to a charity or fine art to a museum. This is also a way to reduce the value of your estate so that it is not subject to federal estate taxes.