Common Questions About Wills
Q. What happens if I die without a Washington will?
A. The State of Washington will, in essence, make out a will for you. Generally speaking, the laws of the State of Washington are very general and practically never could carry out your precise intentions or desires without your planning your own will.
Further, the court will appoint a personal representative to handle your affairs, and this person might be a senior family member with little or no experience in estate management. Not having a will could cost thousands of dollars due to the lack of proper estate planning.
The bottom line to this question is that wills are relatively inexpensive — starting at $35.00 — and everyone should see an attorney regarding having one prepared.
Q. What are the advantages of a will?
A. A will provides for the individual needs of your family members. You decide who, what, when, and where. You may decide to spread the payments out over a long period of time, or provide for the college education of a grandchild or niece. You may remember a church or favorite charity.
By planning your estate, you may avoid certain tax burdens by creating trusts in your will.
A primary consideration is that persons who die without wills have their estates tied up for long periods of time, and loved ones are often unable to liquidate necessary assets to pay funeral expenses.
As mentioned before, wills are very inexpensive in relation to the problems caused by not having one.
Q. Are wills revocable, and how often should they be reviewed?
A. Yes. Wills are revocable and can be changed at any time for any reason. Wills should be reviewed periodically or when individual circumstances change.
The following are examples or changes:
- Recent changes in federal or state laws make it necessary for all individuals to review their wills if they have not done so in the last twenty-four months.
- Substantial changes in assets of ownership in various businesses require review and tax planning.
- If you have relocated to Washington, your will should be reviewed.
Deaths, births, or marriages have occurred which have changed the circumstances of your original intentions.
Wills can be simple or complex documents, depending on the individual’s preference and the nature of his or her estate. Usually, the will describes the estate and identifies the people who will recieve property. A will can also contain special instructions for gifts to charities, giving property to a minor child or disabled person, and naming guardians for minor children.
Regardless of the size of your estate, it is important to have a Will if you want to determine its distribution after your death. If you die withou a valid Will, the distribution of your estate will be determined by the law, without any input form you. If you already have a Will, be sure to keep it up-to-date. Many life events may affect your Will:
- You get married
- You have a new baby
- You get divorced or your spouse dies
- The size or value of your estate changes
- Your beneficiaries change
- You move to a new state
Even if none of these apply to you, consider reviewing your will at least every three years.
Renée E. Stein can answer your questions about Wills and Trusts and help you prepare one if you so desire.