Wills are a the testamentary documents that tell your loved ones what you want to happen to your assets after you die. It has important features of a will that you need to be aware of because these features determine what happens to your monies when you go to the world beyond. Not only will your Will prevent chaos and dispute among your family members, it will also make sure that what you leave is a legacy, not a controversy.
List of Important Features of a Will
Effect Only Upon Death
The first feature that you need to get a whole grasp of in the power of will is, when does a will take effect? Wills are a special kind of document that takes effect only at a particular time, and that time is after you die. Your Will is basically just a piece that has no power whatsoever so long as you are alive. This means that the gifts you give to the beneficiary of a will, can only be his or hers when you die. You as a testator still own the property even if you place it in your Will that it will be your daughter’s in the near future. This brings us to the next feature of the Will.
Make Specific and General Legacy Gifts
In the distribution of your property to your beneficiaries you can either be specific or give general legacies. What’s the difference between the two? How many types of gifts are there?
- General legacies are monetary gifts you give to your heirs to be taken directly from your estate. Example: I hereby give 100,000 dollars to my daughter X or I give 3 million to Y.
It’s a payable type of gift, which usually comes from your bank account.
- Specific gifts on the other hand are clearly defined gifts that you own and want to pass down to your heirs. Here’s the example: “I hereby give my house Rosewood Acre to my son” or “I leave my Wedgewood porcelain to my sister.”
You specifically state the gift that you want to give and the recipient is also named.
In making your Will, you need to be clear in the distribution of your assets. You need to specify who gets what and how much. Being precise in your gifts prevents drama from erupting when your estate is being distributed.
The Failed Gift
Gifts that are stated in your Will but are no longer with you when you die will end up becoming a failed gift. Ademption is the term used to refer to this. Here’s an example so you get what ademption really means.
“A testator intended to give a residential property to John, but the testator sold the property during his lifetime. John receives no gift as a result and the gift fails.”
John experiences an ademption in a Will, and since there is a rule of no substitution in gifts, it ended up with John getting nothing. He won’t even get a single cent from the sales of the property. So when making a gift make sure that you do not make gifts that will end up being sold so as to avoid giving failed gifts.
The Residuary Estate
After all the gifts have been distributed to the recipients, the remaining assets will end up becoming the residuary estate. A residuary estate is what is left of your assets after distributing any specific gifts that was provided for any beneficiaries.
A Will allows you to create provisions for your pets and maintenance of animals. You can also Will away your pets to ensure they are taken care of. However, pets and animals cannot be beneficiaries.
Amending A Will
Wills and probate go hand in hand, and in order to prevent your family from staying in probate court for too long, Wills allow you to make amendments or even create a new Will altogether. You can add new beneficiaries to a Will, for example you had a newborn child or a grandchild. Note that these amendments are only possible prior to your death. Codicil is the term for making amendments to a Will.
Revoking A Will
As stated earlier, you can create new Wills altogether. This is possible by revoking your previous Will. When you write a new Will, you can write a statement that makes all previous Wills invalid. It’s important to remember that DATE is everything in a Will. Later Wills are the ones that are honored in court, especially if its proven to be true and created in a clear state of mind.
It’s Just A Declaration of Intent
Wills are just a declaration of a person’s intent, and you as the testator can change your Will if you desire to do so. If you want to change your mind about your son getting your flat then you can change your Will. He cannot force you to give him something out of your estate.
Appointing Trusted Persons
A Will provides for the appointment of executors and trustees. These are the people you entrust with the responsibility of carrying out your Will. This can be your spouse or a licensed Trust company. Aside from appointing your executors and trustees, a Will also allows you to appoint guardians for your children or any of your beneficiaries who are still minors.
These important features of a Will allows you from shifting millions of monies at just a simple statement, and understanding these things will help you create a better Will that leaves a legacy and not heartaches to your loved ones.