While most people understand that a will is something they should have, their understanding of the functions that it serves is usually limited. What should your will say? And more importantly, will a simple will or a complex will be necessary given your needs?
Deciding between whether to create a simple will or a complex will greatly depends on the size of your estate, whether you expect to owe estate taxes at the time of your death, and your desires on how you would like to leave your property to your beneficiaries. For many people, a simple will is sufficient. If you have several assets or if you fear that your will may be contested at the time of your death, however, you may need to create a complex will and establish a trust.
Drafting a Simple Will
If you expect few issues to arise when you pass away and merely wan to facilitate the distribution of our estate to your beneficiaries in a clear and uncomplicated manner, a simple will is sufficient. Generally speaking, a simple will is appropriate if:
- You are under age 50
- You have few assets or they are valued under a certain amount
- You do not have children from previous marriages
- You do not foresee a possible contest over your will
With a simple will, you will be able to name beneficiaries, determine how your property will be divided among your surviving heirs, and appoint a guardian to care for any minor children you may have at the time of your death. Simple wills are typically something that you can write yourself.
When Is a Complex Will Necessary?
Although easy to set up, simple wills only provide a bare-bones framework and can leave individuals with more complex estates, special needs beneficiaries, and other specialized concerns more vulnerable to pitfalls and will contests. In these situations, it is recommended you have a complex will prepared by a skilled estate planning attorney to ensure you have a greater degree of certainty over what happens after you pass away.
A complex will may be better suited to your situation if:
- Your assets are of a sufficient value to where estate taxes will apply
- You wish to establish a special needs trust for a disabled child or parent
- You wish to set up a trust which ensures your children will receive a certain sum of money when they turn a particular age
- You expect to acquire additional assets
- You wish to create a joint will with your spouse
- You are a business owner
- You have a previous spouse
In some cases, creating a complex will along with a living trust may also allow you to spare your surviving heirs from the cost and frustration of probate at the time of your death. Regardless of your specific circumstances, it is important you consult with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer to determine the most appropriate option to pursue.
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At Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi, P.A., our team of Fort Myers will and probate lawyers have been helping individuals plan for all aspects of their futures with effective estate planning solutions for more than 50 years combined. To find out more about how our top-rated team of advocates can assist you, fill out an online form today and schedule your complimentary case review.