The difficult economy of the past year, as well as global health concerns, have contributed to a sense of uncertainty for the future that may be driving more people, especially young adults, to create an estate plan. For those across America and in Alabama whose lives have been changed by friends or loved ones falling on hard times, planning for the future has taken on new meaning.
A recent survey has cited some significant trends among younger adults going into 2021. It seems that for the first time, adults aged 18-34 are more likely to have a will than adults aged 35-54. Although the overall number of Americans with a will has not changed, the number of young adults having a will has shot up by 69% since 2020.
WHAT A WILL IS AND WHAT IS DOES
A will is a legal document created by an individual that formalizes their wishes concerning the distribution of the estate, the care of minor children and the allocation of assets through trusts, either for the care of minor children or to minimize probate administration and taxes.
A will goes into effect upon the death of the creator, called the testator, with probate court overseeing the administration of the estate through the appointment of a personal representative. In the will the decedent names the personal representative that they have chosen to administer the estate.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A WILL
People are usually motivated to create a will for a number of reasons. With a will they can name a legal guardian for minor children and direct how assets are managed for the future needs of those children.
In the will they name an executor or personal representative who may be a spouse, loved one or trusted friend. This person is charged with ensuring that property and assets are properly distributed to named beneficiaries, and that debts and taxes are settled.
Without a will, the estate of the deceased is intestate. The probate court will appoint an executor to administer the estate and determine the allocation of assets based on each state’s intestate succession laws, with costs of probate deducted from the estate. There is a specific order of intestate succession for deceased residents of Alabama.
Unfortunately, minor children could become wards of the state unless a relative or family friend petitions the court for guardianship.
For individuals considering estate planning in Mobile, a trusted and experienced estate attorney will not only give you dedicated attention for your unique concerns, but also prioritize your concerns and advise you of recent changes to estate tax laws.