COLUMN: Where there’s a will, there’s peace of mind

Benjamin Franklin once said “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

Legal-Ease by Maria Mach

Benjamin Franklin once said “In this world nothing is certain  but death and taxes.”

If the unthinkable happened and you died or became incompetent tomorrow, what would happen to your estate?  Would your family fairly distribute your assets in a manner keeping with your wishes?  This is often not the case; even the most reasonable of people can become unreasonable when money and property are involved.  Families have been torn apart over seemingly minor items such as who gets a certain piece of jewelry.

Preparing a will should not be something you will get to “someday.” If you have young children or any assets of value, you should have a legal will and you should regularly review it, especially if significant changes occur in your life, such as marriage or divorce.  If you do not have a will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with current law, instead of your wishes.

In your will, you must designate an executor who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes as indicated in the will. This should be someone who can handle the responsibility of dealing with your estate and your beneficiaries.  Your executor may also have to make some decisions about items not covered in your will, so you must make it clear to them what your wishes are.  I know of one family where the running joke is “put a post it note on it.”

Do you have young children?  If so, a trust can be set up for them whereby their inheritance is managed by a Trustee until they reach an age which you determine and set out in your will.

Blended families should be considered when making your will.  Litigation often occurs when someone

re-marries and leaves their entire estate to their new family and nothing to children from a previous marriage.

Your estate lawyer can help you identify all the factors you need to consider when planning your will so you are comfortable that the people you love will be provided for as you desire.

Maria Mach is an associate lawyer with RDM Lawyers.  She practices in the areas of wills and estate planning, real estate, and business law. If you have questions or comments, please email legalease@abbynews.com.