Jennifer C. Rydberg, Attorney at Law
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Are wills really that important?

Washington State residents who are unsure as to whether they should have a will must be aware of the variety of issues that will come up and affect their loved ones and heirs should they not take the necessary steps for estate protection by crafting a will. Even those who do not have significant assets should have one. It is important to know the value of a will.

With a will, the person's assets will go where they decide. At the time of death, the testator will have his or her desires adhered to. This also avoids disputes. Those who have minor children are doing them a disservice if they do not have a will. With a will, they will have someone whom the testator designates to care for them. Otherwise, the state will need to decide. Probate is unavoidable for those with or without a will. If there is a will, probate will go much faster as it tells the court how the person wants the assets to be distributed. If there is no will, the court will decide and it can take an extended period to complete.

The estate tax has been prominently featured in the news and changes are coming, but it is still imperative to have an idea as to how this will be handled for those with and without substantial assets. A will allows the testator to pick the executor. The role of the executor is essential as it winds down the decedent's bills and other technical matters. Some people might want to remove others from their will or ensure they do not receive certain items. A will can detail what items should go to whom, if anything.

Many people are interested in charity and a will allows donations. This can also be excluded from the estate tax and will raise the value of the estate after the donation. When there is no will, there are often legal challenges by people who do not believe they are getting "enough" when all is said and done. A will prevents this. Finally, a will can always be changed if it is necessary or the testator wants to do so. Having a will is a wise step with distribution of property, protection of heirs and for peace of mind. A legal professional who understands the value of wills can help with creating a basic estate plan to address all the factors that will arise and provide options on how to move forward.

Source: estate.findlaw.com, "Top Ten Reasons to Have a Will," accessed on Nov. 22, 2017

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