Planning your estate is among the most crucial steps to ensure that your healthcare and property wishes will be honored upon your death. A basic estate plan involves a will, but what exactly is this document?
What is a Will?
A will is a legal, written document that will allow you to:
- Specify individuals and organization you’ve chosen to receive your property — real estate and personal assets.
- Specify a person you wish to act as guardian for your children below 18 if there’s no other surviving parent.
- Specify a “personal representative” and an alternate to manage your affairs.
- Minimize or avoid taxes your family or your estate owes in special circumstances.
- Plan for specific provisions, usually through a trust, for specific care requirements of your surviving, minor children or family members.
- Avoid issues that could crop up if you pass away without a will.
All adults who have properties in their possession, as well as those with a spouse or family, must consider making a will. Even if your property is not in the millions or billions, it’s recommended that you write a will as long as you have personal assets like stocks or cash.
Other Important Things to Know about Wills
In the event that you die without a will, you’ll be considered to have passed away “intestate”. This means the court will divide your property based on Utah intestate law and appoint an administrator of your affairs. After paying off your administrative and funeral fees, debts, and taxes, your remaining property will be distributed among family members.
You can modify or revoke your will. Modifications are normally made though a “codicil” document, which acts a supplement to your original will. To ensure that your modifications will be legally valid, talk to an estate planning lawyer in Utah.
While you can make your own will, the state recommends that you have a lawyer prepare it for you — or at least look over it — because of the complex laws regarding asset distribution.