Don’t just leave them a legacy… give them a hand in creating it.

Your heirs deserve as much of your estate as possible. Many people believe estate planning is only for the very wealthy, but that is not true. When you die, the government calculates the value of everything you own, including:

  • Your home and other real estate you own.
  • The face amount of any personal or group life insurance policies in your name.
  • Savings, investments, retirement plan assets, or Social Security benefits.
  • The value of any personal property such as cash, furniture, jewelry, and automobiles.
  • Your share of a business.

Without a good estate plan:

  • State law determines who inherits your assets.
  • The court appoints administrators for your estate.
  • You may pay unnecessary taxes and expenses.
  • State law may distribute to that “bad seed” you kicked out years ago.
  • The court appoints a guardian for your children.
  • Your family could be forced to sell your assets to pay your estate taxes.

Fortunately, with a proper estate plan, you can:

  • Ensure financial security for you and your family during your lifetime and after your death.
  • Pass on your estate - wholly intact -- to your heirs and according to your wishes.
  • Reduce or eliminate taxes, administrative expenses, and delays in the transfer of your estate.
  • Have the liquidity to cover your taxes, debts and expenses.

What is a Will? 

A will is a written or oral communication by a person stating how they want their property disposed of at death. Different Types of Wills There are several different types of wills one can use to dispose of his or her estate:

  • Self-proving will – A will that has been witnessed and signed with all of the formalities required by state law. This is the most common will.
  • Holographic will – A will that is handwritten without the presence of witnesses. Very few states recognize these types of wills, and only in limited, specific circumstances.
  • Oral will – This type of will is an unwritten disposition of property, whereby the individual orally communicates his or her wishes. Oral wills are only recognized in a few states and usually only in compelling situations.

Requirements for a Will There are several requirements for a will:

  • Be of sound mind – This means that you must:
    • Be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor
    • Know what a will is
    • Know that you are making a will
    • Understand your relationship between yourself and the people who care for you (i.e. immediate family members, including spouse and family).
  • Expressly state that this document is your will
  • Sign and date the will
  • Signed ("attested") by at least two or three witnesses – The number of required witnesses depends on state law. In addition, most states require that the witnesses be unrelated to you.
  • Have one substantive provision that:
    • Appoints a guardian for any minor children
    • Lists who inherits specific items
    • States what happens to remaining property not specifically mentioned in the will
  • Appoint an executor
    • Responsible for supervising the distribution of property
    • Makes sure that all your debts and taxes are paid