Whether your fortune is great or small, you want to protect it so you can pass it down to people and charities you love. Although most people equate assets with money, assets also include real estate, personal property, business interests, and investments.
Creating a will with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney is a smart move. This legal document ensures the probate court, working with your executor, distributes what you own to the people you choose as new owners. Without a will, your assets will still be distributed, but the court will do it for you. Do not let them. A Lake St. Louis wills lawyer could work with you to memorialize your wishes.
What Is In a Will?
Wills are customized according to the maker’s goals, although some universal information appears in all of them. Some of the customized information includes:
- Business interests
- Instruction for burial or cremation
- Real estate titled only to the decedent
- Listed family heirlooms and who is to receive them
- Who will handle bank and investment accounts
- Names of guardians for minor children if parents should die together
- Listed personal property, such as cars, boats, furniture, and jewelry, and the beneficiaries who will receive them
Wills are one crucial tool in estate planning. Many people know they need a will but put off making it because they prefer not to think about dying. A Lake St. Louis wills attorney could be your compassionate guide to getting this task behind you.
Generational wealth, passing assets from one generation to the next, is a way to ensure children begin adulthood with something from their parents. This could be millions of dollars or a great-grandparent’s wedding ring, both of which serve the purpose of connecting and supporting family ties.
Dying without a will, called dying intestate, often causes chaos and family infighting, especially if oral promises were made but not communicated in a will. In such situations, the courts will distribute assets using a formula favoring spouses and children. According to Missouri Revised Statutes § 474.010, a surviving spouse inherits the entire intestate estate if the decedent has no children. However, if the decedent has children by another marriage, the estate is split evenly between the current spouse and children. This can be problematic if the decedent was estranged from a child and assumed the current spouse would inherit the estate. A wills lawyer in Lake St. Louis could ensure a recipient is protected from losing all or part of an inheritance the deceased wanted them to have.
Some Assets Are Conveyed Separately
A will cannot be used to transfer some property, such as a family home held in joint tenancy by both spouses. When one spouse dies, the remaining spouse automatically becomes the sole owner, and the home is not subject to probate.
Life insurance policies usually name a beneficiary. The policy is administered by the insurance company, not by the probate court. The deceased person who took out the policy does not own the payout. Retirement plans can also be treated separately at the owner’s death if set up properly.
Although testators (those who die with a will in place) can leave assets to people or charities of their choice, pets are considered personal property and cannot inherit from their owners. However, testators can discuss caring for a pet with a trusted friend or loved one. If the person agrees, money can be left to that person for the animal’s care, either through a will or a trust set up for that purpose.
Route Your Assets Properly With a Lake St. Louis Wills Attorney
Your estate does not have to amount to millions to benefit from drafting a will. Modest estates should also be handled to benefit the people and charities you choose. You earned the assets you own and should have a say in who owns them next.
If your situation changes, your will can be amended to reflect your updated choices. Contact a Lake St. Louis wills lawyer who could safeguard your assets for the next generation.