Wills in General

A Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is used to state formally who you want to receive your estate and to name an Executor to settle your affairs.  Wills are especially important if you have children, to state at what ages they should receive an inheritance and who will manage it for them in the meantime.  You may also name a legal guardian for a minor child (under eighteen years of age).

Without a Will, your assets will be distributed according to state law.  In many cases, clients are surprised to learn how different state law is from what they would have wished.  For example, if you have a spouse and children, assets would be divided between them, instead of to your spouse first, as most people would expect and want.

Some reasons to review your Will are a divorce, remarriage, additional children, a significant change in assets or if it is more than ten years old.

In order for a Will to be valid, there are strict requirements surrounding its execution.  It is preferable to use an attorney to ensure that all of the requirements are met and that your wishes will be honored.  You may have estate tax issues that need to be addressed (generally for estates valued at more than one million dollars).  You may also want to set up trusts for your children so that you may delay the statutory distribution at age eighteen to twenty-five or thirty years old.