Possibly one of the most common estate planning tools drafted by estate planning attorneys in Arkansas is the Last Will and Testament. This is true, even though do-it-yourself wills are available online. Simply drafting the will is not the only thing required, in order to accomplish proper estate planning. So, if you are thinking: “I need help drafting my will,” we are here to help. As an Arkansas estate planning firm, Sexton, Bailey Attorneys, PA is equipped to not only draft, your last will and testament, but also manage, transfer and distribute your real and/or personal property, according to the terms. Part of our services include minimizing estate taxes, navigating the probate proceedings, and handling any disputes that may arise.
Drafting a Will
The Last Will and Testament is a written legal document describing to those who survive you precisely how you want your estate to be distributed after your death. Wills are useful because they can always be revoked or modified at any time during your life. Wills usually include terms regarding the following issues:
- Property distribution
- Provisions for minor children, if applicable
- Identification of the executor, and an alternative, to administer the estate
- Desired funeral arrangements
- Property to be transferred into trusts
Along with addressing these items, there are other important clauses that should, in most cases, be included in your will. Discuss your personal needs and your options with your estate planning attorney, to ensure the most effective estate planning tool is created for you.
A Survival Clause is typically used to explain what should be done if one of your named beneficiaries dies before you. If these instructions are not included, the property you intended to leave to that beneficiary may go to their heirs instead. That may not be a problem if that is what you intend. However, if you would rather identify an alternative beneficiary, a survival clause needs to be included, to spell out those specific terms.
Tax Apportionment Clause
A Tax Apportionment Clause stipulates that inheritance and estate taxes owed, must be paid from the remainder of the estate, which means after all money and personal property have been distributed to your named beneficiaries. If a tax apportionment clause is not included in your will, your beneficiaries will likely be required to pay a portion of the taxes, based on the amount of inheritance they received.
Simultaneous Death Clause
A Simultaneous Death Clause is similar to the survival clause in that it addresses the possibility that you and one of your beneficiaries may die at the same time. If this happens, such as in a car accident, your will can instruct that, its terms be treated as though the beneficiary died before you, unless you specify otherwise.
Simultaneous death of your spouse
If both you and your spouse die at the same time, you can state in your will that your spouse is exempted from the simultaneous death clause. Another option is to instruct that the spouse with the smaller estate will be considered to have survived the other. Doing so would be very useful in reducing federal estate taxes.
Appointing personal representatives
In your will, you can nominate the person you want to serve as the executor of your estate. Although the probate court ultimately makes the final decision whether to appoint the person you nominate, you can still have some input in the decision. Usually, the person you nominate will be appointed by the court, unless there are objections. It is also a good idea to identify an alternate, in case your first choice is unable to serve for any reason. More importantly, if you have minor children who may survive you, a conservator, as well as an alternate, should be nominated as well.
If you have questions regarding drafting a will, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Sexton, Bailey Attorneys, PA online or by calling us at (479) 443-0062.