Some of the most basic estate planning questions are also some of the most important. When people first visit an estate planning lawyer in North Carolina, they often do so from a position of having no background in the law, much less estate planning. For these types of people, understanding what the essential estate planning tools do, and why you need them, is important. Over the coming weeks we are going to look at some basic questions that everyone should understand before they begin the planning process. To start, we are going to take a look at some basic questions about wills.
Basic Estate Planning Question 1. What does my will do?
There are several important functions your last will and testament serves, though it is primarily designed to allow you to make inheritance choices. When you create a last will and testament, you and your attorney will sit down and design a document that will address your inheritance wishes. In that document you will include gift clauses that give your property to specific people or organizations. As a person who makes a will you can include almost any gifts you want, and are generally under no legal obligation to leave specific inheritances to anyone.
For example, if you have four children and eight grandchildren, you can choose to leave your children an equal inheritance, divide inheritances amongst only the grandchildren, or even choose to leave no inheritances to any of your relatives.
Basic Estate Planning Question 2. What does choosing an executor mean?
Another vital piece of every last will and testament will be the section in which you nominate a person who will serve as the executor of your estate. Your estate is the collection of property you leave behind after you die. The executor is the person who will become legally responsible for managing the property and making sure it is handled properly. Executors will have to be approved by the probate court, but can be almost anyone you like. As long as your chosen executor is willing and capable of serving, he or she will have the responsibility of honoring the wishes you expressed in your will.
Basic Estate Planning Question 3. Can I use my will to protect my young children?
Absolutely. Another vital piece of a last will and testament for parents of young children is a section in which you nominate a guardian. Should you die and your children no longer have a living parents, the guardian will have a legal responsibility to care for the children. Like executors, guardians can be any competent adult as long as that person is willing to serve in the position.