You Can Control the Distribution of Your Estate with a Wills
The Will Process
The process of creating a will begins with a consultation, a person to person meeting. Talking to you and learning about you, your family and your wishes is key. First you need to decide who your beneficiaries are. A beneficiary is the person who will receive an interest in your estate. Are you married or have you been married before? Are their children from the marriage or outside of the marriage? Are their step-children? Are their people who you do not wish to be included in your will? Does a beneficiary have a disability?
Choosing the right person to handle your estate might be the most important decision you will make in your lifetime. Upon death, the responsibility of the estate of those without a will might be placed in the hands of the wrong person. Upon your death, if you have a will, you control who is responsible to handle your estate by naming the Executor. If you do not name the Executor in your will, the Surrogate of the Probate Court will name an administrator and it may not be the person you wish.
During the consultation, we talk about the people you believe would be most appropriate to handle your estate. The functions of that person – who is known as an “executor” – are limited. The executor’s main responsibility is paying debts and distributing the assets of the estate.
People with children should also consider who will be the right person to be the child’s physical guardian upon their passing. The guardian will be the children’s physical caretaker.
You also should name a trustee for children under 18 and the trustee will have a longer term of responsibility. A trustee is responsible for the safekeeping of the child’s assets and distribution of support for the child’s well-being and education while underage. You can also determine a longer term for a trust then reaching the age of 18.
Ms. Pittella says, “My role in helping my client make these important decisions is to guide them towards finding the appropriate executor, trustee or guardian for their family. If the estate consists of a substantial amount of money, my role is to make sure that my client gains insight into tax consequences. In that case, my focus is to find them the right outside source for the advice they need. Depending on the estate, this may involve a tax attorney or an accountant.”