Virtually all comprehensive estate plans include a will that may be the foundation of one’s asset succession plan or a more limited pour over will to ensure that all of an individual’s property is properly addressed. Because wills are an essential part of estate planning strategies, our Bernalillo County Estate Planning Attorneys have provided some answers to common questions about wills. While we have answered some of the most common general questions, we invite those with specific questions about their situation to contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Do I really need to have a will if I plan to leave my property to my immediate family anyway?
Some presume that if they are planning to leave the bulk of their estate to their spouse and/or children, New Mexico intestacy law will accomplish the same result without the need to prepare a will. However, the law prescribes that specific percentages of your estate be awarded to your spouse and children that may not represent the way you wish to distribute your assets. Further any loved one beyond your wife and children may be left with no inheritance if you rely on New Mexico intestacy law rather than a will.
Does the preparation of a living trust make a will unnecessary?
While a living trust is an effective estate planning tool and frequently superior as the primary tool for transferring assets to your loved ones when you die, it does not completely eliminate the need for a will. In this situation, you still need a pour over will so that it is clear what to do with assets that you failed to transfer into your trust.
What are the limitations in terms of how a will can address my asset succession needs?
While wills can provide for the transfer of assets that would be subject to probate, there are certain assets that are always handled outside of probate like life insurance policies and retirement plans with designated beneficiaries. Further, real property titled “joint tenants with right of survivorship” will pass to the other joint tenant rather than via will.
Why is it advisable for most people to use a living trust rather than a will as the cornerstone of their estate plan?
Wills must go through probate so they often entail delays, additional costs, public disclosure, and limited options for reducing estate taxes. Living trusts allow an individual to transfer assets into the trust when the person is still living so that probate is unnecessary. In addition to the increased efficiency and reduced cost, living trusts also provide more effective and flexible options for protecting beneficiaries from creditors and inadequate management of the funds they inherit.
The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.
If you have questions about probate or wills, our Santa Fe, NM Estate Planning Attorneys at Life Leaf Legal Group, PC offer a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your specific situation. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 856-3591 to learn about your rights and options.