Is it Time to Update Your Will?
Here are some important reasons why you should revisit and update your old Last Will and Testament:
- Independent Administration. A big part of estate planning used to be “How to Avoid Probate” – that is, how to make sure that legal fees and court costs don’t eat up a large part of your assets. A typical succession administration requires your Executor to hire a lawyer and file numerous and repetitive pleadings with the court to get authority to pay bills, sell assets and do all of the administrative tasks. This generates the bulk of the legal fees and costs involved in a succession administration. You can now authorize an “Independent Administration” of your succession in your will which does away with the need for most of these filings and minimizes probate costs.
- Forced Heirship. It used to be that all of your children, regardless of their age, were your “forced heirs” and were entitled to a share of your estate. Now, children over 23 are not forced heirs unless they are physically or mentally disabled. If you have a need to treat your children differently in your Will, you may be able to do so now.
- Formula Bequests. Many estate planners used to employ “formula bequests” to take advantage of the deductions and credits available under federal estate tax law. For example, “I leave to my wife the maximum amount of my property which can pass free of federal estate taxes at the time of my death”. Those kinds of credits and deductions have increased into millions of dollars today, and it may be that your estate doesn’t need to use all of them. Perhaps you can pass property to other family members, and thereby avoid “stacking” (and taxing) property in your spouse’s estate which doesn’t need to be there.
Much more has changed in the last several years, and a comprehensive review of your old will is the only way to insure that your wishes will be realized.
Allen & Gooch is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.