As our political landscape is more uncertain than ever after this week’s election results, our readers cannot be certain that estate tax repeal is on the horizon. Also, most people do not own substantial assets so that estate taxes may apply to their estates. However, most of our clients could benefit from the drafting of a Will and other estate documents by a skilled attorney. This post will address the benefits of engaging a qualified attorney to draft your estate documents.
Without a Will, one’s property will be left according to the laws of intestacy. Intestacy distribution through an administration proceeding may serve most people well enough. For instance, if one’s closest surviving relative is a daughter with whom there is a good relationship, the parent would have no problem with the daughter inheriting her entire estate. However, if there is also a son with whom the parent has an estranged relationship, intestacy would result in both children sharing in the estate equally. Since this is not a result favored by the parent, the drafting of a Will is essential so that the parent’s wishes that only the daughter inherit will be honored. Also, should the parent wish for both children to inherit, but in unequal portions, a Will would be needed to address this desire. Likewise, a Will can allocate responsibility for the payment of estate taxes between beneficiaries and may direct that only certain assets be liquidated in order to pay estate taxes.
When working with an attorney to draft estate documents, the opportunity to select an executor to manage the estate is also available. Otherwise, with intestacy, the person who inherits the estate also is appointed to serve as administrator to manage the estate. This may not be a favorable result if this person is not as prudent in managing money as another person that may be selected by the decedent.