Many people think the importance of a will is primarily as a document that causes the distribution of their assets after their death. While that is certainly a part of its function, the Will can help the family in several other ways.
1. The executor.
First, it names an executor or executrix to administer your estate. By designating such a person, one can avoid having no one take action, and will decrease the time until the estate is closed. Also, the will can specify that the executor serve without posting bond, which can avoid that expense.
The importance of a will becomes very relevant when the family includes minor children and persons with disabilities. The Will can designate who will act as their guardian.
3. Special needs.
Wills can provide for the special needs of beneficiaries that otherwise would not be recognized as a matter of course. For example, the Will can make special provisions for the care of minors and people with disabilities, either directly or through a testamentary trust (a trust that arises from the Will), including provisions not just for the assets themselves but for the care of the individual beneficiary.
4. Operation of assets.
If the estate includes real estate, personal property, or investments, a Will can authorize their operation, sale or maintenance consistent with the best interests of the beneficiaries. This can be important where assets are likely to decline in value over time, or are in a form that is not well suited to the beneficiaries.
A Will can authorize the payment of taxes, funeral expenses, and debts, so that they are not a burden on others.
The importance of a will that clearly defines your wishes also can help to avoid conflicts among family members. Those kinds of conflicts can be long and bitter, as well as expensive. Helping to avoid them can potentially be a wise and valuable gift.
The way to secure these benefits for your family is to take the time and draw up an appropriate plan. If you have not done so, you may be subject to certain defaults provided by law, which may not match what you would choose and may not best serve your family. Avoid that situation by getting started today.
Windy City Legal assists clients in Chicago with real estate, business law, and asset protection matters.