Pros and Cons of a Last Will
Updated: Jan 31
Advantages of a Last Will
You can choose your executor. Your executor is in charge of making sure all your bequests are carried out. In your will you have complete control over who this will be. The executor should be someone who is willing and able to handle everything that is involved with the closing of your estate. Without a will, a court appoints someone to administer your estate, and that person may not be someone you would choose.
You can bequest property to family and loved ones. You can choose who will receive what from your estate. If you do not have a will, your estate will be subject to the state laws of “intestacy.” That means the people you would like to benefit from your estate may receive less than they should or nothing. Someone who you are not close to may receive the bulk of your estate. As such, you have a long-term partner but are not married, then he or she could receive nothing under your state laws. In contrast, if you are in a divorce but have not finalized the process, without a will, your estranged husband or wife could make a claim on your estate.
You can name a guardian for children and provide for them. With a will you can choose a guardian for your children. You can also set aside funds to make sure of your children's support and comfort.
You can create a testamentary trust inside your will. Within your will can be a testamentary trust. Your testamentary trust will be created upon your death and used to hold property for another person's benefit, for example your children.
Revocable. If your will no longer represents your wishes, then you can revoke it entirely and start over.
You can plan for personal matters. Anything from your burial arrangements to your pet's care can be covered in your will. For example, you can use your will to dictate what type of services, if any, you would like, and other personal matters.
You can amend it. Your circumstances can change, and your will can too. With a “codicil” you can amend any provisions of your will whenever you want so that they best reflect your most current wishes and assets.
It's more affordable than you think. For most creating a last will is surprisingly affordable, especially if your finances, assets and beneficiaries are somewhat straightforward.
Disadvantages of a Last Will
It is public. Your will becomes public record once it is filed for probate. This means anyone can search for your will and see its contents.
The need for probate. If your will does not catch all your assets and they are worth more than a certain amount, then your will must be filed for probate, which is the procedure that the decedent's assets are distributed. Your probate may be a long process, which can, later on, be costly for your estate. In contrast, you can draft a living trust to avoid probate.
May not fully address your tax concerns. A will that is not carefully planned out could leave your estate open to paying large state and/or federal estate taxes or your beneficiaries to paying hefty inheritance taxes. The Cliff Coulter Law Firm Last Wills include provisions helping to minimize state and federal estate taxes.
Contests. It is possible that someone could challenge your will. However, if you have followed all of the proper procedures in its creation, your will and its provisions will likely stand.
As always, talk to an attorney before preparing your last will.