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Last Will & Testament

What is a Last Will & Testament?

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Last Will & Testament

A Last Will & Testament is a legal document which sets out the will maker's directions as to who should receive his or her assets upon their death.

When individuals pass away without a will, the State shall control how their assets are distributed. The State isn’t interested in reducing costs, streamlining the distribution of assets, or making sure that the deceased individual's wishes are carried out. This happens while the financial and family affairs are public record since the State is administering the assets as the State sees fit.

Regularly Update Your Will

  • To ensure that the bequests are current
  • To ensure that the beneficiaries are current
  • To ensure that new assets have been addressed in the will
  • To ensure your Estate is administered in a cost-efficient manner & maximizes the inheritance received by the beneficiaries

Last Will & Testament vs. Trust

Last Will & Testament

  • Disposition of wishes and assets at death
  • Does not plan for disability
  • Personal Representative must be appointed by Court in order to act
  • Must be "proved" in Court
  • Becomes public record
  • Estate Administration is under Court's oversight
  • Validity is highly state-specific
  • More prone to contests due to public & legal notice requirements
  • Property in multiple states means multiples Court proceedings
  • Probate is time-consuming, which may delay distributions
  • Does not protect your heirs' inheritance from divorce or creditors, or themselves
  • Does not provide protections for heirs, if your spouse remarries
  • No tax reductions
  • Cannot include overseas savings or assets

Trust

  • Disposition of wishes and assets during life & at death
  • Can plan for the incapacity of the Trustmaker
  • The successor of your choosing takes over at death (or incapacity) without Court involvement
  • A contract that speaks for itself
  • Trusts remain private
  • Administration occurs privately between trustee & beneficiaries
  • The governing law of Trust prevails
  • Less prone to contests
  • Can only be contested by a disgruntled heir/beneficiary
  • Probate is unnecessary, if properly funded
  • Little to no delays in making distributions to beneficiaries
  • Protects heirs' inheritances from divorce, creditors, and even themselves by implementing safeguards until they are more mature to handle a large inheritance
  • Protects heirs' inheritances, if your spouse remarries
  • Reduces excise, gift, estate, and generation-skipping taxes
  • Can include overseas savings and assets

Terminology

Testate - The condition of having died with a valid will

Intestate - The condition of having died without a valid will

Decedent - The individual that has passed away

Testator - The individual who makes the will

Beneficiary - One or more individuals that receive assets from a decedent

Bequest - Property given by a will

At Politakis Law, we provide our clients with comprehensive estate planning support that’s personalized to suit their specific needs. We know that preparing for the future can be difficult and overwhelming, but when you turn to us, you can rest assured that we will offer professional, knowledgeable guidance to help you reach your goals. Ready to get started? Schedule your virtual or in-person consultation with Politakis Law today.

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