"I need a will."

Jan. 5, 2017

This is often what clients say when they are contemplating how to best take care of their families and their possessions after they pass away.

Following the client's initial declaration I usually ask some follow up questions to determine what specifically the client needs. However, after a few questions, most clients exclaim that all they need is a simple will and that any other work will not be necessary.

Given the frequency with which this conversation occurs there appears to be a general misunderstanding as to what a will can and cannot accomplish.

A will can do several important things following one's death:

  • Direct how some of their possessions will be distributed;

  • Direct who will care for their children; and

  • Direct who will finalize their affairs.

There are, however, several things that a will cannot do:

  • Direct how other possessions will be distributed;

o IRAs, jointly held property, and life insurance are a few examples of property that are not covered by a will;

  • Hold property for those who are not yet ready for the responsibility;

o Trusts can be created to manage property for children, those with special needs, pets, etc.;

  • Hold property in a way that minimizes estate taxes;

  • Direct who is to make decisions regarding property while a client is still alive but unable to make their own decisions; or

o A Power of Attorney for Property can provide for surrogates to make decisions;

  • Direct who is to make healthcare decisions for a client while the client is still alive but unable to make their own decisions;

o A Power of Attorney for Healthcare can accomplish this.

For these reasons a will is an important part of a comprehensive estate plan, but not necessarily the only part of an estate plan.

Contact the Wills, Estate, and trusts Lawyers in La Grange, Illinois at Larson & Greenberg Law Group, for a free consultation about your specific estate planning needs.

Published by Mike Darcy, Attorney at Law - Larson & Greenberg Law Group, LLC