Estate Planning with Wills
A will may be a more cost-effective estate planning tool than a trust up-front. However, wills go through probate, a process that may be costly and time-consuming. You may end up paying more in the long-run with a will-based estate plan than a trust-based estate plan. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, wills are definitely recommended over choosing not to have an estate plan at all, although trusts offer more benefits than wills.
Wills are basic estate planning tools to designate assets to go to particular individuals upon one's death.
Below is a list of some of the very valuable things a will can do:
Designate who gets what
The main purpose of a will is to list each beneficiary and state who gets what and how much of it do they get.
Nominate Guardians for Minor Children
A will can nominate a guardian(s) for your minor children. However, the probate court is the ultimate deciding venue regarding that appointment.
Establishing Testamentary Trusts
In cases where a trust might fail to become effective for whatever reason, a will can have language allowing the personal representative of the estate to create a testamentary trust to accomplish the grantor's intent.
Stating Funeral and Burial Wishes
Although an individual's funeral and burial wishes can be stated through an official document, a will might also state what the decedent wanted to happen to their body after his/her death.
Naming a Personal Representative
Typically one of the most important sections in a will is the one appointing a personal representative (i.e. the person in charge of carrying out the terms of a will). This is a very important designation and should not be taken lightly. This person will not be able to change the terms of the will. He/she is just responsible for administering and distributing the estate assets.
While wills can serve as useful estate planning tools, they are not the most effective estate planning technique. Often trusts are overwhelmingly preferred over wills.