A Will is a legal document that allows a person, the testator, to decide how his or her estate will be distributed after death. While this concept seems simple, it is not. In Massachusetts, Wills have many requirements and should always be drafted by an attorney. Here are five common misconceptions about Wills.
1. Having a Will avoids probate.
Wills are intended to go through the probate process. Probate is long, costly, and stressful for your loved ones. An estate planning attorney can help you with your Will, but will also advise you about how to avoid probate.
2. Once you sign your Will, it cannot be changed.
Even though your Will usually states that it is your “last Will,” you may still change it at any time. Everyone has different needs and wishes at different points in their life. Executing a new Will if you experience a big life change is common and recommended. For small changes, your Will can be amended (by codicil).
3. Only rich people need Wills.
You may be saying to yourself: I don’t have any assets. Why do I need a Will? Wills do more than distribute assets after death. They can also be used to distribute sentimental personal item to specific people. Another important function of a Will is to designate a guardian for your minor children.
4. Having a Will helps you avoid taxes.
A Will alone does not avoid taxes. In fact, since Wills must go through probate, your estate will incur court fees and attorneys fees during the probate process. Also, the Massachusetts Estate Tax Exemption amount is currently one million dollars. If your estate is over one million, you may be subject to estate taxes. However, there are several estate tax planning techniques that can help you reduce or even avoid estate taxes.
5. Your wishes and needs are simple so your Will is going to be simple.
Many people have simple wishes for their estate. You may want to provide for your children or grandchildren, to make sure your money goes to loved ones and not the government, or even to leave money to your favorite charity. While these needs are simple, today’s Wills are often eight to ten pages long and have long and complex paragraphs. This is a result of years of court cases regarding vague or unclear language in Wills. An estate planning attorney can make sure your wishes are met and that your understand each part of your Will and its importance.
If you have any questions about estate planning, or are interested in executing a Will, you may contact Julie Ladimer at (508) 620-4565, or by email at email@example.com.
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Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.