It can be difficult to think about planning for a future that has not happened yet, but the time you spend doing it now will yield big benefits in the future. You will never regret drafting a will now, but your family may have huge regrets if a will is not in place before you pass. Many people do not take the time to draft wills because they do not understand the benefits of having a will.
At Charles Vincent & Associates, in Eugene, Oregon, looking out for our clients’ interests is our top priority. We not only take care of their immediate legal concerns, but we also look out for their interests in the years to come. Helping our clients develop an estate plan is part of that work.
The Benefits Of Having A Will
The purpose of a will is to ensure that your wishes for distribution of assets and possessions are carried out upon your passing. If someone chose to forgo estate planning, then the state would follow its intestacy law to dictate how that person’s belongings are distributed. When a person’s belongings go through a court-supervised transfer process, that process is known as probate. Probate can be quite a long and expensive process, which is why it is important to plan ahead to minimize the time and costs as much as possible. The costs for probate are, typically, covered by the estate. If the estate cannot cover the costs of probate, then assets would need to be sold.
When you choose to create a will, your assets can pass through probate much quicker and allow your possessions to be distributed to the person(s) listed in your will through your assigned ‘executor.’ The executor is someone whom you would designate as a personal representative to handle the administration of the estate. The will would provide the executor with instructions for the administration of your property.
It is a good idea to create a will if you have any minor children, as this is a way to put a guardian in place if anything unexpected were to occur. If a parent chose not to document their choice of guardian, then it could be left up to the court.
Once you have created a valid will it is important to update that will depending on your assets or any major life events that may occur. Major life events could include: marriage, divorce, or welcoming a new child into your family.
If you need to make a change or adjustment to your will then a codicil may be necessary. A codicil is an amendment or modification to an individual’s will. Since a codicil must be executed with all the formalities of a will, simply adding in the codicil creates a new valid will.
Does Everything Go Through Probate?
While a will passes through probate, there are items which do not:
- Joint assets
These are assets held between you and another party, such as real estate, vehicles, or joint bank accounts. Assets that are held jointly do not become a part of the estate since the other owner would absorb the entire interest of that asset.
- Trust assets
There are several trusts which one could establish, including: revocable living trusts and irrevocable trusts. All trusts are created to hold something for the benefit of another. Assets that are placed into a trust do not have to go through probate upon ones’ passing.
- Retirement accounts
Retirement accounts should already have a designated beneficiary listed on it. Upon a person’s passing, the beneficiation of the account is simply entitled to those proceeds.
- Insurance policies
Similar to retirement accounts, insurance policies should have a designated beneficiary listed on it. Once the person passes away, the named beneficiary or beneficiaries are entitled to receive the value of the policy.
What We Can Do For You
Our lawyers are here to provide guidance for you throughout your life. We can help you with a will, advance health care directive, power of attorney or other essential estate planning document to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with an attorney to discuss your estate planning needs. Call us at 541-687-6765 or reach us online. We represent clients throughout Eugene, Springfield and southern Oregon.