The Importance of a Will
Wills are important for a variety of reasons, the greatest of which is to ensure that YOU decide how your estate is distributed to and among your loved ones. However, here are four more benefits to having a Will:
1. To appoint a Guardian for your minor children
2. To appoint a Trustee to manage assets and property that might pass to your children, regardless of their age
3. Appoint a Personal Representative of YOUR choice
4. Avoid the State from distributing your Assets according to statute
Choose a Guardian for your Children
If you have minor or dependent children, it is critical to select a Guardian who you believe is fit and able to care for your children in their time of need. A Will is the most reliable way to select a Guardian to care for your child in the event of your death. If both parents die without appointing a guardian in a Will, the Court will choose the person who will care for your children.
Appointing a Trustee to Manage Assets
Most parents, when asked, elect to establish Trusts in their Wills to benefit their children, which are administered by a Trustee. The assets are managed and distributed by the Trustee to the children in accordance to the wishes of the parents, as set forth in the Trust. The Trust then terminates at a point in time when the parent feels their child would be able to manage their own affairs.
If parents die leaving assets and/or property to a minor child or children, without the establishment of a Trust, then the Court will step in and decide who should administer the property on behalf of the child or children. Once the child reaches the age of majority, the child will receive full control over the assets and or property.
A Will is an excellent mechanism by which to create a Trust for the benefit of a child or children. Moreover, a Will is where a parent appoints a Trustee and describes the disposition of the Trust.
Choosing a Personal Representative (Executor)
A personal representative ensures that your wishes, as contained in your Will, are carried out after your death. The Personal Representative collects and inventories all of the property and is responsible for making distributions in accordance with the Will.
Most people choose a spouse, sibling or other close family member or trusted friend to act as Personal Representative.
Without a Will naming a Personal Representative, a Court will appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution of your property. Consequently, your Estate may be administered by a stranger who knows nothing of your wishes or intentions.
If you die without a Will, then the Court deems that you have died Intestate and imposes State created rules that govern the distribution of your estate.
Generally, the spouse and children of the deceased are the first to share in the Estate. In Washington State, spouses receive items considered as community property and children receive portions of separate property. Often times, these distributions are contrary to the wishes of the deceased and create strife between families. Also, without a Will, it is impossible to give gifts or property to close friends, in-laws, charities or other organizations. Worse yet, if there are no living blood relatives, the state confiscates all the property and it accrues to the benefit of the state.
The best way to avoid the state’s intrusion into your personal affairs is to establish a valid Will. Don’t put off this important task.