You spend a lifetime accumulating wealth like money, property, or businesses, and you want your loved ones to inherit their shares so they can live comfortably. Unfortunately, if you die without a will, the state will decide who gets what. If you have no legal heirs, the state will keep your assets. Therefore, you should consider drafting a will to protect the future of your inheritance.
The regulations behind drafting a will can be confusing, so it is best to work with the guidance of a dedicated estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable O’Fallon wills lawyer could outline the process behind drafting a will, answer questions, and help you understand everything you need to know.
Why is Drafting a Will Important?
Drafting a will is crucial because these documents help people establish clear wishes for the destination of their assets and property. Passing away intestate, or with a will but forgetting to include some assets, can be incredibly problematic. According to state law, the court can distribute assets according to a formula when someone dies away without a will. Therefore, it is possible that someone unqualified will end up with a decedent’s business interest, or the court will sell it to reimburse creditors.
Even if an estate is modest, there will usually be special assets, items, or property a testator will want specific people to inherit. When a person communicates their final wishes in a will, they can ensure that their property goes exactly where they want it. An experienced attorney in O’Fallon could answer further questions about the importance of drafting a will during an initial consultation.
Information to Include in a Will
When most people think about their will, they imagine the document handles the transfer of money or a family home to specific heirs. However, there are many other matters that wills can resolve. Wills are specific to the testator’s needs, and no two are identical. Some additional clauses that a testator could include in a will include:
- Decisions about who will take care of minor children after both parents pass away
- The destination of cash accounts
- What to do with personal property, including cars, boats, furniture, jewelry, and family heirlooms
- The destination of real estate, including the family home
- Final decisions about business interests like stock in a corporation, member interest in a limited liability company, partnerships, and sole proprietorships
Picking the Right Beneficiaries
When drafting a will, it is also crucial to carefully select beneficiaries. If a will does not properly designate beneficiaries, the court might invalidate it during probate. Spouses and children are common beneficiary choices, but anyone who does not have a spouse or children can gift assets to unrelated friends or charities. A knowledgeable O’Fallon lawyer could help someone select beneficiaries during the process of drafting a will.
What Assets Might Not Work in a Will?
While wills are powerful documents that can outline the destination of many assets and properties, not all assets can be included in a will. For instance, jointly owned property can become problematic. If a family home is held in joint tenancy, it will automatically go to the surviving owner or owners upon the death of one joint tenant.
Life insurance benefits are normally handled separately from the assets in a will using beneficiary designations. Retirement plans with beneficiary designations and other accounts payable at death are also handled separately from a last will and testament. If an O’Fallon resident has further questions about which assets, properties, or items might not fit into a will, they can discuss their situation with a dedicated attorney.
Take Your Case to an O’Fallon Wills Attorney
Regardless of your wealth or the assets you own, you should prioritize drafting a comprehensive will. Using a will to plan for the future can help ensure your assets go where you want them to after you pass away.
If you need guidance, our legal team could advise you about what should be included in your will, depending on your family situation and assets. An O’Fallon wills lawyer is here to help you protect your wealth and your valuable property. Call today to schedule your initial consultation.