Why Everyone Needs A Will

By Kristin M. Tyler

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A lot of people ask me if they really need a Will – likely in hopes that I will say “Nah” and give them a pass on this important task. However, the answer is YES – you certainly need a Will and depending on your family circumstances, and the types of assets in your estate, you may need more advanced planning. Here’s why…

Your Will provides valuation information for your loved ones upon your death. In your Will, you will address four key issues: nomination of an executor, nomination of a guardian in the event of your incapacity, nomination of a guardian for minor children, and the disposition of your property.

The executor’s job is to handle your final affairs and to probate any assets that need to go through probate. It is important to note that in Nevada a Will won’t help you avoid probate – depending on your circumstances you may need a revocable trust if avoiding probate is a high priority.

We always have our clients nominate a guardian for themselves in the event of incapacity during life. You will make that nomination in your will. Proper estate planning is as much about protecting yourself in the event of incapacity as it is about planning for death.

If you have minor children, making a Will is even more crucial as this is the document where you will tell the Court who should care for your children. You can nominate the same person to serve as guardian of the person and the estate of the child. Alternatively, you can separate the roles and nominate one individual to be guardian of the person of the child (handle the daily care of the child) and another individual to be guardian of the estate of the child (handle the financial matters).

Finally, the Will directs how your property shall be distributed to your beneficiaries upon your death. The property will be given to the beneficiaries once bills are paid and any creditors are dealt with.

More and more people are trying the do-it-yourself approach of buying online kits to make their Will. While this may work great for some people, the cases I have encountered have resulted in giant disasters. I’ve seen DIY Wills where beneficiaries signed as witnesses which resulted in an invalid Will. In another case no one dated the Will and we spent a small fortune hiring an investigator to find the witnesses so we could depose them about when the Will was signed. I have also seen Wills with multiple sections distributing property – each leaving property to different beneficiaries. Those Wills end up in Court for the Judge to decide how the person intended to leave their property. Proceed with caution if you want to try the DIY route – there are a lot of technicalities in a properly prepared and executed Will. The best way to plan for your estate and the ones you love is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.