Wills & Estates

Everyone knows they should have a will, but the vast majority – about 70% of us – do not.  Writing a will is easy and inexpensive, and once you are done you can rest easy knowing your hard earned money and property will be distributed according to your wishes.  Making a will is easy, you just need to be at least 18 years of age and must be of sound mind when the will is written.  To make a will legal it must:

  • Expressly state that it is your will
  • Be computer generated or typewritten
  • Be signed and dated
  • Be signed by 2-3 witnesses, these witnesses must be people who don’t stand to inherit anything in the will

Although you do not need a lawyer to prepare a will, it is advisable to do so to avoid any unforeseen problems that may arise. Once your will is complete, it should be kept somewhere safe and secure outside of your home.  Many people keep their wills in a safety deposit box at a bank, but this is not recommended as the contents could be sealed at the time of death. The executor of your will should be aware of its location.


EXECUTORS

An executor is the personal representative of your estate, as specified in your will.  The person selected as executor should be competent and trustworthy as they will be responsible for taking control of your assets, paying off debts and distributing assets as per the terms and conditions of your will.


PROBATE

Probate is the legal process that transfers the legal title of property from the estate of the deceased to their beneficiaries.   During the probate process the executor of your will goes before the courts and identifies and catalogs all the property you owned, appraises the property, and pays all debts and taxes, proves that the will is valid and legal, and distributes the property according to the instructions of the will.  Probate can be a long, drawn-out legal process, and there are some probate-avoidance plans in place.  Simply speak to your attorney to find out what you can do to avoid probate in your area.