Thinking about mortality is not something that most people like to do, but planning for the future can help protect your family when you are gone. One way of securing your loved one’s future is by creating an estate plan, and making a will is a great way to direct how your estates will be handled when you die.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that expresses how you want your property, assets, or estate to be distributed after death. Anyone of legal age (above 18 years old) and of sound mind can write a legally binding will. The types of will vary from simple, one-page documents to extensive volumes, which depends on the vastness of the estate and the preference of the testator (the author of a will). A will first designates the estate and devisees, or the person to whom real estate is left by the terms of a will. In a will, you can find a list of debts and assets, including family heirlooms, the contents of safety deposit boxes, properties, and vehicles. It can also include specific instructions regarding the care of children, donations to charity, and the establishment of trusts in Utah. The same thing can be accomplished when you place your assets into a trust and naming your heirs as beneficiaries. Both estate planning tools have their advantages, and sometimes having both is the optimal choice. Our lawyers here at Wᴀʟᴅʀᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ Gʀᴏᴜᴘ can help you make the right choice. Consult an experienced Orem estate planning attorney if you want to start creating your estate plan.
There are different types of wills, and the most common type of will is a testamentary will. It is a traditional will, also known as a last will and testament. It is a legal document that is used to state how you want your affairs handled and distributed after you die, and may also include a directive of how you would like your funeral or memorial to be held.
Less common types of will include oral wills, pour-over wills, and holographic wills.
A will is an essential component of estate planning, and seeking legal counsel from an experienced Utah estate planning attorney today can guarantee that your last wishes will be carried out, and those most important to you will be protected.
Why Do You Need a Will?
Through a will, you can get to decide and have full control over who gets to administer and inherit your property after your death. A will can ensure that your goals and principles are reflected in how your property is distributed.
You can choose a personal representative or an “executor” to manage your estate and distribute your properties and assets to your beneficiaries. An executor of a will makes sure to perform the testator’s wishes after they pass. They are also in charge of estate administration, collecting debts owed to the testator at his/her death, and filing required tax and court documents. A will goes through a legal process called probate, where the administration of the estate is supervised by the court, and having a capable executor who can efficiently handle these court proceedings is important.
Directing the distribution of your properties and assets after your death is just one aspect of estate planning; you’ll also need to prepare for the management of your finances and health care when you reach retirement.
Guardianship of Minor Children
If you have set up a will before having children, you might want to make a new one or amend the existing will to include your offspring. If you don’t have one, consider making one now and appoint guardianship for your children. By creating a will with the help of a trusted Utah estate planning lawyer, you can guarantee the safety and welfare of your children if you pass unexpectedly. You can appoint a guardian that will look after them and allot money for their needs.
If a will isn’t prepared at the time of death and no guardian was appointed, the surviving family would have to go to a probate court to have them appoint a guardian for your children, and your estate or properties will be distributed according to Utah state laws. To avoid such circumstances, it is best to seek legal help from a Utah estate law firm near you and establish your own estate plan for the benefit of your loved ones.
In some cases, a testator chooses to leave someone out of a will, like a former spouse, children, or other relatives. Under interstate laws, the spouse and children are entitled to a share of the decedent’s assets. However, you can specifically state your wishes and disinherit someone through a will.
Formalizing a Will in Utah
In order for a will to be valid, it must be signed or executed in a will-signing ceremony. To finalize a will in Utah and make sure it is a valid, binding legal document, you must have at least two witnesses who will sign your document when you acknowledge or sign your will. The witnesses must be 18 years old and above, and it is best to get witnesses who aren’t a part of your will but personally know you. They must also be able to testify when your will goes through the probate procedure in court.
Can a Will Be Challenged?
Under probate law, wills can be contested by a spouse, children, or anyone that is a part of the will. However, you can take steps to ensure that your will will not be contested. A properly executed will is immune to a legal challenge, and our Orem estate attorneys can help you make the best estate plan for you and your family.
What Happens If You Die Without a Will?
In Utah, if you die without a will, your estate will be declared as intestate, meaning there is no valid will. The probate court will appoint a personal representative to take care of your estate, and your assets will be distributed according to intestacy laws. Under Utah’s intestacy law, your closest relatives are given priority as your heirs, starting with your surviving spouse and children. However, if you want to decide where you want your assets to go and how they will be distributed, setting up an estate plan is your best option.
We, at Wᴀʟᴅʀᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ Gʀᴏᴜᴘ, can help you start your estate planning in Utah for a secure future for your loved ones.
Call our Orem estate planning attorneys today to schedule a free estate planning consultation.