Importance of a Will

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A Will is a set of written instructions you provide during your lifetime as to how you want your assets distributed upon your death. Having a valid will, however, will not avoid the necessity of a probate proceeding.

Probate: Upon your death, your Will is recorded with the Probate Court and becomes a public document. Once your Will enters the probate process, your estate is controlled by the Executor named in your will and the Probate Attorneys for the Executor. In other words, your assets can only be distributed amongst your heirs pursuant to you Will, and as the Probate Court determines to be valid. The process may vary from state to state and can become quite expensive due to statutorily required fees for executors and probate attorneys. In Los Angeles, probate is done for those assets which are under the ownership of more than one person; the rest of the assets can be distributed without going through the probate process.

A Will is created for estate planning purposes and has a beneficiary who is responsible for all of your belongings. However, if there is no beneficiary, then the will has to go through the process of probate in the county of which you were a residence, for example, Probate Court in Los Angeles County. This means that particular belongings will be distributed with the rest of the particulars after clearing probate. At that point, it becomes an issue only to be resolved by a probate court; it is no longer an issue that can be resolved amongst family members.

Due to this reason, many people do not believe in having a will. Instead, many people prefer to create a trust to hold all of their assets. The person creating the trust, the €trustor,€ nominates a trustee to manage the trust and its assets. A trust may provide for the trustee to withhold your assets from your beneficiary until he or she reaches a specified age to inherit your assets. This living trust can be more expensive as compared to having a will. However, a trust avoids the involvement of the probate court. For this reason, it is the more attractive preference for some people. You can start with a small affordable plan and later on expand upon it, as necessary.

Frequently, your family does not, or will not at the time of your death, know where your records are kept with regard to your real property, bank and security accounts, ownership and title documents, insurance policies, etc. Further, it becomes very difficult to find such records after something happens to you. This is where estate planning becomes very beneficial. Estate planning helps you organize and maintain records of all your assets, including locating the required documents and even making corrections, if necessary. Along with this, estate planning attorneys will assist you in filing your taxes and also in reducing your tax liability. However, you must name a proper beneficiary, and a wrong designation or mistake on title could led to heavy tax consequences. If your family has to correct those types of errors, it could cause them to pay much more money to an attorney. That is why estate planning attorneys cross-check designations and titles to assets prior to designating a beneficiary to receive them.
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