The basic foundation of your estate plan
At Warmond, we offer one of the simplest means of guaranteeing peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.
This legal document allows you to make decisions on who will administer your estate and distribute your assets on death. In the absence of a will, the person is said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed.
Key things to note:
- Your will is the first step of your estate plan.
- A will has no legal authority until after death. So, a will does not help manage a person’s assets when they are incapacitated, whether by old age, illness or injury.
- Probate may be required.
- A will is an opportunity to nominate the guardians of your minor child if something happens to you. It is strongly recommended that parents of minor children should document their choice of guardians. If you leave this to destiny, it could result in a family battle and your child could end up with the wrong guardians.
Determining who will be in charge of your estate when you are not around is an important decision.
Choosing the right executor is a crucial step in the estate planning process and requires careful consideration. The executor must engage with family members during this period of sorrow while managing conflicts that may arise among beneficiaries during the distribution of the assets. The executor’s actions are subject to scrutiny not only by beneficiaries, but also by regulatory authorities, creditors and the courts.
The pressures of being an executor come along with its potential for personal liability. This can in some cases be overwhelming. You may therefore, want to consider appointing a corporate executor.
Key questions for your consideration:
- Executor’s Age – What if your executor were to predecease you or become incompetent and be unable to fulfill his/ her duties?
- Location – Where does your executor reside? It can be difficult to settle an estate remotely.
- Competency – Does your executor have the required legal, tax, accounting and investment knowledge to make effective decisions? Competency to handle such matters is imperative.
- Time – Will your executor’s personal commitments impact his/her ability to deal with your estate? Fulfilling this role requires substantial investment of time.
- Liability – Is your executor aware of the potential personal liability for errors made in settling an estate? Is he/she willing to accept this liability?
- Disputes – Do you foresee any dispute amongst your family members or beneficiaries? Will the executor be independent and non-biased having a professional approach?
- Minors – Does your estate name minor beneficiaries? Is your executor willing and able to continue his/her duties until these beneficiaries reach the age of majority?
- Location of Beneficiaries – Do your beneficiaries reside outside the country?
- Complexity of Assets – Does your estate include complex assets such as business, partnership or commercial real estate? Does your executor have the expertise to wind up or dispose of these assets in a tax efficient manner?
Probate is a legal process whereby the validity of a Will is established in a court as the true last testament of the deceased.
As an executor, Warmond helps the family of the deceased in obtaining Probate from the court of competent jurisdiction