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Preventing Conflict with Wills and Trusts

Aug. 17, 2016

The subject of wills and trusts often causes people a dilemma. Most people would like to believe that if they pass on without a will or trust, their estate would be fairly distributed among the people who love them. However, this is often not the case and the absence of wills and trusts can lead to contention between families. It is a myth to believe that you have to be wealthy in order to have a will or a trust. An estate, which is what is distributed by wills and trusts, is your property that is left over after you have passed on. This can include anything from the car you drive to the house you live in, to any money that you have saved in a bank account. In other words, it is not the quantity that matters but the fact that you have any property left over In Your Name alone which creates the estate.

It is important to remember that estates are often contentious not because of their intrinsic value, rather because of some level of sentimentality that may be associated with certain things that you possess. Any possessions in your household can be considered part of your estate and should be included in any wills and trusts that you have made. Simply put, wills and trusts are a very eloquent way of designating who gets what part of your estate without having a family feud erupt over even the smallest possessions. Even more importantly, having a will or a trust gives you the opportunity to decide who will receive your property rather than leave that choice to established state law. In addition, if you have a will, it allows you to choose a personal representative rather than a random person who might be related to you petitioning to be court-appointed to act as your personal representative. Since there is nothing more personal than your estate, which is the collection of all your possessions accumulated before you're passing, it is always advisable to have wills and or trusts made in the event that you passed unexpectedly, in order to reduce any potential conflict and the involvement of the legal system.

One of the questions that I get frequently when it comes to wills and trusts, is whether or not it is advisable to use a computer program to write your will. As an attorney, I have found that programs that provide generic language are not often appropriate for your specific circumstances. It is important when you are considering the planning of your estate, that you have the advice of somebody who understands the legal technicalities prescribed by the law of your state in order to make sure that your will or trust is properly prepared. Vague and ambiguous language can often lead to a misreading or a misrepresentation of your will and this, in turn, could do one of two things. It could lead to conflict between your surviving family members, which is something you do not want. Secondly, it could lead to a misreading of your desires and your property could end up in the possession of the wrong survivors. In order to make sure that your expressed desires are properly met, within the bounds of the law, it is important that you use an attorney that has the professional knowledge, skill, and experience to prepare the wills and trusts to lay out exactly what you want, perfectly.