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The Importance of a Last Will and Testament in Maine
A last will and testament refers to the legal document which outlines who receives your property upon your demise. It also states who will oversee the management and distribution of your estate (including the payment of taxes and debts). You could also use it to name the guardian for your children because if at the time of your death you have children below 18 years, you will want them cared for by someone you trust, isn’t it?
While most of us don’t want to face reality, in as much as death is the most painful events anyone could experience, creating a will is one of those things you have to do. You may die in your sleep, get involved in a car accident, fall and die instantly – anything can happen. That means that if you care about your kids’ welfare, or you just want to protect what you have worked so hard for by giving someone you trust your estate, then you should create a will as soon as you can.
What makes a will valid before the eyes of the law?
While you will put down your wishes in the will, you need to know that after your death, the person you appoint to oversee your estate, the executor, will have to file that will with the probate court. If the court approves the will, it will grant the executor powers to distribute your estate by giving your representative approval documents, officially appointing him or her as the executor. The executor could be one of your heirs, a member of your family, or an attorney.
So, what does it take to make that will valid in Maine
First, it must be prepared according to the statutory provisions of code section Tit. 18-A §2501, et seq. This means that the will must have every little detail needed to make the will legal. To simplify the process, especially if you are not using a professional in estate planning, getting a free Maine, last will and testament form will set you down the right path.
You also need to understand the legal terms used in the form. The creator of the will is the testator, the persons expected to inherit your estate are beneficiaries or heirs. As mentioned above, the person you appoint to take care of your kids or dependent persons is the guardian, and your personal representative is the executor. Note that you should name alternates or successors for the executor and the guardian. Also, the executor and the guardian (as well as their successors), must be made aware of the appointment and they should agree to take on the roles assigned upon your death.
To create a free last will and testament in Maine, you must be 18 years or older. You should be of sound mind and acting out voluntarily. To prove that at the date and time of creating the will you acted out of your own volition and were of sound mind, there should be two adult witnesses who should sign the will to affirm and acknowledge that you have signed the will.
The will must be in writing. Besides, the kind of wills that come to life by filling out a last will form, the state of Maine will also recognize holographic wills. Holographic wills refer to handwritten wills. For approval, every detail of the will (details of the estate distribution, named guardian, executor, and beneficiaries, as well as the testator’s signature should be in the testator’s own handwriting. Holographic wills do not require witnesses for validity.
Don’t forget to list down your beneficiaries.
So, what can you do with a last will?
As mentioned above, you can use the will to protect your kids by naming a guardian. But, that is not all: you could also use the will to set up a testamentary trust for your children. At the same time, you get to indicate how much of your estate your kid(s) inherit and when.
Creation of pet trusts: for continued care of your pet upon your demise, you could set up a pet trust and even appoint a caregiver for the named pet.
Asset distribution: you know how you get worked up when you need to split something between loved ones and you are afraid of a fallout? Or when you have to ask someone else to split something among a group? In such cases, you are certain that a few people will complain that their share is smaller than others and they might accuse you of being unfair, right? Well, that is what happens when you leave a whole estate without mentioning who gets what. The only good thing is that you may be a little biased but, people won’t complain as much because you will have protected the interests of your loved ones.
By creating a will and assigning each heir a certain percentage of your estate or even going further down to state who gets specific items, you prevent quarrels, and the distribution is almost effortless. Just make sure you cover everyone and apportion property fairly, especially for the kids – don’t forget any child or you will risk opening the will up for challenges.
It prevents the state from Instituting intestacy laws.
- Wondering what intestacy laws are? Well, these are the strict laws that the state of Maine will institute if you fail to create a will. The state will distribute your estate. Unfortunately, this distribution may not be anything close to what you want or wish to happen. Here is how it goes:
- A surviving spouse inherits the entire estate in the absence of kids.
- Children inherit the entire estate if you don’t have a surviving spouse.
- If you have a surviving spouse and kids, your spouse will take ,000 of the property, as well as half of what remains from the property. Kids get the rest. This also applies if you have surviving spouse and parents rather than kids.
- However, if you’re not survived by a spouse, parents, or kids, your estate is awarded to your siblings or any other close relatives you may have.
Note: property held jointly, the ones with the right of survivorship will not be on the list of property to be divided.
How does the state handle small estates?
This is also handled by the probate court which determines that the total value of your estate, less encumbrances, and liens, will be less than the cost of family/ homestead allowances, exempt property, reasonable funeral expenses, administrative costs and expenses, and necessary medical/ hospital expenses of the decedent.
Can you change or revoke?
Yes. You need a codicil to change the will. To revoke the will, you could either create a new one or destroy it (with the intention to revoke its powers).
Does a will sound like something you wish to prepare? Well, when you are ready, you could get our last will and testament form and get started.