Thursday, January 05, 2017


  • a will states who is to inherit what upon ur death
  • a will stipulate who will become the legal guardians of ur children
  • when u die without a will, this is known as "intestate succession"--- ur property is disbursed according to the intestate laws of ur state
  • a will goes into effect only when u die; in the event that u are merely incapacitated, a will won't help u one bit
  • when die with only a will, it doesn't make it easy to pass assets to ur heirs; a will must be authenticated by a judge before it is considered valid, this happens via a court procedure called "probate". the probate process takes time and money
  • the wishes u lay out in a will can be overridden by other documents
  • a will is not enough, u need a will and a revocable living trust, u need both
  • while the trust takes care of ur big-ticket assets adn a potential incapacity, u still have plenty of smaller assets that have no title: china, treasured pens, errings, a will is where to spell out whom u wish to inherit these items
  • ur will also take care of any assets that u didn't get around to transferring into the trust, those assets will pour over to the will and be managed or disbursed exactly as u have laid out in the trust--- this is why when u have a revocable living trust, ur will becomes known as a pour-over will, or backup, will 
  • in many states, if the value of the assets in ur pour-over will are too large, they will not automatically pour over into ur trust, instead, ur heirs will have to go through probate ---thus u want ur major assets held in a trust
  • u need to create a pour-over will
comparison: will vs. revocable living trust --- see gmail note

Holding title for ur assets-- see gmail note for more details

How to get a will?

1. must have witnesshave a lawyer draw on up --- cost from a hundred to a few hundred, depending on where u live and how complex your affairs
  • buy a form will at a stationery store, fill in the blanks, --- cost about 10 dollars
  • get a computer program that will generate one for you --- about 35 dollars
  • if u use any of these methods above to draw up ur will, u need to sign it, while u are signing it, have three people sign it as well to witness ur signature
  • when u want to change anything in the will, u simply draw up what is called "codicil", which is an additional paper enumerating ur changes, sign and have  three people sign it as well to witness ur signature
2. no need to have witness
  • u can draw up a will urself on a piece of paper, which will cost u nothing--- this is known as "holographic will"
  • make sure the paper u use has no other writing on it, or the will will not be considered legal
  • entire will must be written in ur handwriting and is dated and signed by you
  • if u make mistake, don't cross it out, start over, anything crossed out is considered an interlineation, making the will null and void
  • do not have anyone else witness a holographic will, this will make it null and void
  • if u want to change a holographic will, it is better just to redo the entire writing
Specify an executor
  • a person who make sure all the legal, financial, and emotional matters are taken care of after u die executor deal with the legal system, accountant, all the beneficiaries, banks, insurance companies, make sure that the wishes expressed in ur will are carried out
  • in many states, the executor gets a set fee for having done all these tasks, or depending on where u live, u may just decide to specify a fee in the will
Court system
  • after ur death, ur will has to go through the court system, usually the executor has a lawyer handle this 
  • a judge has to authenticate the will, to make sure it is valid --- this process is called "probate"
  • after the judge probates the will, he will sign a court order transferring title to the property covered in the will to the people who are intended to receive it, as reflected in the will ---- this sounds easy, but depending on which state u live in, it could be a nightmare: (1) the process can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years or more, while ownership of the property remains in probate limbo, (2) the process could be expensive, in many states, there are statutory probate fees (fee set by laws)
  • assets valued at less than 60,000 to 100,000 (depending on the state) can be transferred to ur heir by a simple process called " probate affidavit", it costs very little, doesn't take much time, make it easy for ur survivors to receive what u want them to, probate affidavit forms are available in most banks at no cost

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