What Are the Steps to Setting up a Basic Will?


Quick Answer

To set up a basic will, indicate to whom property should be left, who should care for minor children, who should manage property left to minor children, and who should serve as executor, notes Nolo. Basic wills are usually sufficient for people under age 50 with minimal assets.

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Full Answer

A basic will generally does not avoid probate court, according to Nolo, and can be drawn up by most lawyers. If decedents leave more than just a small amount of property, the will generally goes through probate court after death. This varies by state, but when probate is required, it can take up to a year for an estate to be settled, and it can cost a great deal of money. Until probate is complete, beneficiaries receive very little or even nothing from the decedent’s estate.

A basic will may not be sufficient for some situations, advises Nolo. People who expect to owe estate tax upon death, or who want to have control of what happens to their property after they die, may want to look at other types of estate arrangements. For example, leaving a property in trust allows it to go to a child and then to grandchildren after death. Special needs trusts are also a viable means for setting up an estate to care for a disabled child in the event of the parent’s death.

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