The simple will is the most commonly used estate planning document, but many people who utilize them make the mistake of overlooking trusts. In this post, we will share five key pieces of information about wills so you can go forward with a more complete understanding.
Everyone is aware of the fact that you can use a will to state your wishes regarding the way you want your assets to be transferred after you are gone. You can also name a guardian for dependent children if you have a will, and this is key if you are a parent.
It should be noted that the court would honor the nominee under almost all circumstances, but there are exceptions. If there the court determines that the person who is named is not fit, they could designate a different guardian.
Why would this take place? The person who is chosen may take a wrong turn on a personal level, or he could have hidden skeletons in his closet. He could also experience a health problem or pass away after he has been granted guardianship.
To count for this, an alternate guardian should be designated when the parent of a dependent child is creating a simple will.
Basic Legal Requirements
Any adult who is of sound mind can execute a will that is legally valid in the state of Kansas. The document must be signed in front of two witnesses, and the witnesses must sign the will. There is no notarization requirement, but this can be a good idea as you will learn in the next section.
A Will Is Admitted to Probate
When you create a will, you name an executor to act as the estate administrator. The executor would be required to admit the will to probate, which is a legal process that is supervised by a court.
During probate, the assets are identified and secured by the executor, and they are inventoried and prepared for distribution. A notice is posted for creditors, and they are given four months to come forward.
The executor will obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS that represents the estate, and a bank account will be established so final debts can be paid.
We touched upon the matter of notarization in the previous section. If the will has not been notarized, the court will contact the witnesses to confirm the signing. This step can be skipped if the will has been notarized because it would become a self-proving will.
You Can Easily Change or Revoke a Will
If you want to revoke your will, you simply destroy the document and it would no longer exist. You could alternately use the same formalities to execute a document asserting your revocation of the will, but this is unnecessary if you effectively destroy the will.
In most instances, if you want to make changes, you should destroy the obsolete will and create another one. However, if you would like to make a minor change, you could add a codicil, which is essentially an amendment.
There Is a Better Alternative
The last thing we want you to know about wills is the fact that there is an alternative that is superior in many ways. If you use a revocable living trust as an asset transfer vehicle, the trustee would distribute assets outside of probate.
This is key, because Probate is time-consuming and expensive, and it is a public proceeding. Anyone who is interested can access probate records to find out how the assets were distributed.
Inheritors will receive direct lump-sum inheritances with no asset protection if you use a will, and this can be a source of concern.
On the other hand, you can provide limited distributions over an extended period of time if you have a living trust. In addition to this layer of protection, the principal would be protected from the beneficiary’s creditors. These are a couple of the benefits, but there are others.
We Are Here to Help!
Today is the day for action if you have been going through life without an estate plan. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 913-262-2000.