For a lot of people who will have an estate plan, a will is probably the only thing that they use. Many people do not readily accept the idea of making a will because the process seems to be overwhelming. But it does not have to be because simple wills may cover most, if not all, of what a more complex will can, and requires less time and effort to create.
A simple will may be enough to distribute your property upon your death, name a guardian for your children, designate someone as in charge of the management of your children’s financial affairs, and name the executor of your estate. There are numerous self-help resources available in book stores or online in creating a simple will.
Are Simple Wills for You?
A simple will is probably for you if you are younger than 50 years old and have a small estate that’s not subject to estate taxes. For those with larger estates, a more detailed and complicated will may be for you.
Here’s an example of a common situation where a simple will is appropriate:
Carlo and Jessica, who are in their mid-30s and have two young children, have just finished paying off their student debts. They have not accumulated a lot of assets so far. They can use a simple will to transfer properties to each other in case one of them dies, or pass on everything to their children in equal shares in case the spouses die at the same time. They can also designate a guardian for their children in their will.
Simple Wills Don’t Have to Go Through Probate, Right?
Unfortunately, any kind of will goes through probate, even simple wills. Keep this in mind when choosing an executor. He or she should be able to manage your estate through the probate process.
However, this shouldn’t be much of a concern right now. When you live up to the middle age and acquire more assets, then that’s the time to think about avoiding probate. For now, what’s important is to be prepared for situations that may come unexpectedly such as the possibility of death.
When You Shouldn’t Use Simple Wills
If you have accumulated enough assets that may be subject to estate taxes then it is important to setup a plan for the management of your assets. For example, you may want to establish a trust fund for you children that also transfer the properties to your grandchildren after your children’s death.
Your estate may be subject to estate taxes upon your or your spouse’s death.
You need to set up a special needs trust for your disabled child.
You suspect that there is a possibility for someone may challenge your will. If so, then it is advisable to hire an attorney who could help you write your will and validate it in order to defend your will against any attack on its legitimacy.