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What is a Will?

A will, technically known as a Last Will and Testament, is one the most fundamental components of any estate plan. It’s a legal document that controls the distribution of property after you pass away. Wills can help you accomplish all of the following goals:

  • Name a guardian and/or conservator for your minor children
  • Determine who receives your assets after you pass away, rather than the state making this decision for you based upon established guidelines for asset distribution
  • Name the person or institution you want to manage your estate after you pass away
  • Make gifts to charity
  • Determine who will be responsible for paying estate and minimize other taxes you have to pay

In order for a Will to be valid, the testator, or the person creating the Will must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind; the Will must be in writing and signed by the testator and signed by two or more witnesses; or meet holographic requirements.

When you are creating a Will, there are a number of considerations to make sure loved ones are provided for correctly, reducing taxes, and reducing administrative costs. Creating a Will is important regardless of the size of your estate.

If you die without a Will, your property will be distributed according to formulas determined by state statutes. That is, the state, not you, will control who gets what. These statutes are set in stone and make no exceptions for family members in need or what your loved ones claim you might or might not have wanted. The state also dictates who can be appointed to manage your estate, quite possibly a person you never would have wanted to handle this important matter. In addition, the cost of probating your estate without a will may very well be significantly higher than if you had created a valid will.

Contact Legacy Law Firm's Sioux Falls Will attorneys for a complimentary Will consultation