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Last Will and Testament – Why You Need One

Last Will and Testament – Why You Need One

The Differences Between Will Planning & Estate Planning

To many, having an estate plan and having a will are one in the same. But that’s actually not the case. Estate planning is a comprehensive process that uses numerous documents to secure your assets and intentions after your death. The last will and testament (commonly referred to as a “will”) is one of these documents. An overview of estate planning can be found in our previous blog post Estate Planning: A Necessity for All.

What is a Last Will and Testament?

A last will and testament is a legal document that communicates your final wishes after death, outlining what happens to your estate when you are gone. It is the foundation of your Estate Plan. While the last will and testament is most commonly associated with distributing the deceased’s money, assets, and other property, it also has other capabilities. For example, a last will and testament can designate a guardian for the deceased’s minor children.

What happens if you die without a will?

If you die without a last will and testament, you will have died intestate—meaning the state becomes the executor of your estate, and your property will be distributed to your intestate heirs according to the state’s intestate succession laws. In Indiana, intestate heirs include everyone from your spouse and children to your distant aunts and uncles. In settling the estate, the state will decide how to distribute your property and whom to give it to without considering your family’s circumstances. This includes appointing a guardian for your minor children and disabled dependents.

How often should you update your will?

If you already have a will, you’re off to a great start in your estate planning. But in order to be effective, your will needs to be periodically updated. Typically, this should happen after every major life event: marriage, having a child, etc. Having an updated last will and testament will help to eliminate confusion for your loved ones after you pass.

Your death will take an emotional toll on your surviving family members. Plan ahead and make a last will and testament now so that your loved ones don’t have to go through the uncertainty of what occurs when you die without a will. Contact the Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning attorneys at McNeelyLaw for all your estate planning needs.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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