It's the stuff of film and literature - a tense group of family members sits in a stodgy attorney's office as he intones the reading of the will. Then the family erupts into shouting, fistfights, scheming, and murder to get the largest share of the estate.
Keep the drama from damaging relationships in your family. Protect your loved ones by clearly spelling out your wishes for your estate with an experienced attorney. Adam Schneider can help you make decisions on the distribution of your assets, the guardianship of your children, and who is to assume the task of carrying out the terms of your will.
A standard will outlines your burial wishes, and provides for the settlement of outstanding debt. It names the recipients of your assets; typically, married couples leave their assets to each other. Children, if any, are generally the secondary beneficiaries, but if both parents are dead the children become the primary beneficiaries. You can also leave money to organizations.
If your children are minors, it is important to name a trusted relative or friend to serve as guardian. The guardian makes sure that your children's needs are taken care of and their inherited property is managed responsibly. If you have an incapacitated or special needs child or spouse who cannot function alone, you need to make extra provisions for their future. If your estate is large, Adam can advise you on setting up trusts for your family.
An executor is someone appointed to make sure the terms of your will are carried out. This person will deal with bill payment, taxes, and property disbursement, The executor is entitled to a small percentage of the estate for services rendered.
When Adam has drafted your will to your satisfaction, it must be signed in front of two witnesses. The witnesses will also sign the will. If circumstances change, you can revise the will as needed; the most recent copy is the binding copy.
After your death, your estate enters probate. This process confirms or appoints the executor, supervises the payment of of expenses, and gives the go-ahead to disburse funds to the beneficiaries.
If you die without a will, intestacy laws will determine the distribution of your assets to your closest relatives. This is another popular movie and literary (and dream) theme - the inheritance from a distant or unknown relative. The inheritance hierarchy will follow your family tree to find beneficiaries. If there are no living relatives through blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
After death, there are sometimes complications with financial obligations and estate beneficiaries, especially if no will exists. Adam Schneider can help you navigate the legal channels of estate management.
A will can't guarantee that family members won't fight or contest the terms of the will, but it is the only way to be sure your last wishes are clearly stated.