Benefits of The Last Will and Testament in West Virginia
Wouldn’t you want to dictate who inherits which part of your estate and who takes care of your minor children or a special needs dependent upon your death? With everything running smoothly at the moment, you may not think much into estate planning and the need for a last will and testament but looking at feuding families around us getting the document is the best gift you can give your family.
But before we look at the benefits of creating a last will in depth, what is a last will?
The last will refers to the document that communicates your wishes regarding the distribution of assets or even the guardianship of children after death. It is legally recognized, and it gives you complete autonomy on what you want to happen to your estate.
Unlike the living will which comes into effect only upon your incapacitation and inability to make decisions, the last will only comes into effect upon death. A living will is often the document with health care directives, and it ceases being effective as soon as you die.
Creating a free last will and testament in West Virginia
As the basis of estate planning, it might sound like you require a lawyer to create a will. But, that is not entirely true. Using a free West Virginia last will and testament form easily downloadable online, you can create a last will in the comfort of your home. You might have to seek professional legal help only if yours is a complicated situation like the case of creating trusts or dealing with blended or second marriage situations.
That brings us to the fact that you could either create a simple or a complex last will. The simple will works best when you do not have minor kids to protect or when you only need a will for asset distribution rather than asset protection. The complex will, on the other hand, represents the document you use when you want to set in motion business succession plans, asset protection through the creation of trusts, or addressing the matter of asset distribution in a blended family situation.
What makes a last will and testament valid in the eyes of the law?
- The state requires that the will meets specific requirements.
- The creator of the will, the testator, must be at least 18 years at the time of the will’s creation, able to make sound judgments and decisions, and acting on their own volition.
- The testator must sign the will. But when he or she is unable to sign it, they should ask someone else to sign the will on their behalf and in their presence and also according to their express direction.
- There should also be two or more witnesses (not beneficiaries) to oversee the signing of the will and to affirm the signing by the testator or the person asked.
- The will must have a list of beneficiaries, and it should be in writing. Note that handwritten or holographic wills are acceptable in some unique circumstances.
So, what can you do with the last will?
Protection of minor children
A parent’s primary role is to take care of the welfare of their kids whether you are still breathing and even after passing on. And for most parents, it doesn’t make sense to bring kids to earth if you cannot protect them and ensure their well-being whether you are around or not. For that reason, one of the primary functions of last wills is to name the guardian for minor kids as well as dependents with special needs.
The guardian will take over parenting roles after your demise, and you could also give them control over the estate inherited by your children. Therefore, talk to them about the role and name them in the will only after they are willing to take up all those roles.
If you want to appoint someone else as the guardian of your children’s estate, then you may have to appoint a guardian of the estate as a different individual.
And, anything can happen so, appoint a successor to the guardian.
Did you know that the last will and testament is that one document that lets you set conditions for asset distribution and however absurd they look to the outer world, those wishes will be respected on the condition that at the time of creating the last will, you met the statutory requirements of code section: 41-1-1, et seq.?
Asset protection using trusts
The last will and testament will let you create a testamentary trust. The testamentary trusts are irrevocable and could be used for tasks like pet protection using a pet trust in keeping assets in the family using a dynasty trust. You could also use the will to create a special needs trust or a disclaimer trust (for protecting the assets inherited by the spouse), or a credit shelter trust for tax protection of large estates.
Note that you can change or revoke your last will. And you have the right to name anyone as the beneficiary of your estate.
What happens if you don’t create a last will in West Virginia?
The state will invoke intestacy laws to determine who inherits your estate. Under the intestacy laws, the surviving spouse is entitled to the entire estate even when you share kids. But if you have kids from a different relationship and with the spouse, the surviving spouse will only inherit 3/5 of the estate and the kids inherit the rest. If you only have kids from another relationship, then your spouse will inherit half the estate, and kids get the rest.
Without any kids, spouse or parents, your close relatives – siblings and grandparents – will inherit your estate.
Are you ready to prepare a last will? Whether you live in Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Beckley, Wheeling or any other city in West Virginia, download our free last will and testament forms online today.