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By Michael Vosilla
Senior Associate

Most individuals don’t give much thought to estate planning until they reach retirement or become ill. However, life can change in the blink of an eye. Without a valid will in place, you will have no say in how your estate assets will be distributed. This can lead to strife among your family members and other avoidable problems. No matter your age or life circumstances, it’s never too early to think about a will. The estate planning attorneys of LaFountain & Wollman P.C. take a look at a few of the benefits.

Deciding Who Inherits What

The primary benefit of executing a will is that you get to decide who will inherit which of your assets. If you die without a will, known as dying intestate, your property will be distributed according to the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code. These rules will allow your closest living relatives to first claim your estate assets, down through your lineal descendants.

The problem, however, is that individuals you do not want to inherit your property may be able to do so. You also won’t get to dictate which relative can inherit which item from your estate. If you have any preferences regarding who gets to inherit what from you, it is vital that you execute a valid will.

Selecting a Personal Representative

If you die intestate, the court will select someone to administer your estate and distribute assets to your heirs. Again, this person may not be someone you would want in charge of what you leave behind. With a last will and testament, however, you get to decide who will be the personal representative (formerly known as the executor) of your estate. The personal representative is also responsible for paying estate debts, which have to be paid before your heirs get to inherit anything.

Because of the role your personal representative plays in managing your estate assets and liabilities, it should be someone who is stable and financially responsible. The good news is that you have the right to select this person now with a last will and testament.

Choosing a Guardian For Your Children

If you have minor children, have you given consideration to who will take care of them if you pass away? In the absence of a will, guardianship proceedings will be required so a judge can decide who will look after them. But as with other aspects of intestacy, you won’t be here to make that decision. The person appointed as guardian might be someone you would not want serving in that capacity.

Fortunately, you don’t have to leave this matter to chance. You can specify in your will who you want to be the guardian. This should be someone you trust to make responsible decisions in the best interests of your minor children.

Leaving Assets to Charities and Organizations

You may wish to include something in your will that leaves a portion of your assets to an organization, cause, charity, or institution of your choice. If you leave money to charitable organizations after you pass away, your estate might be able to claim a tax deduction. Less money owed in estate taxes means that more assets will be available for your heirs.

Get Started With Your Estate Plan Today

A last will and testament is the first and perhaps most important step in creating a comprehensive and personalized estate plan. There are other instruments you should consider, such as trusts and powers of attorney. With the right documents in place, you can provide for yourself and your family while securing an enduring legacy for generations to come. Give LaFountain & Wollman P.C. a call today to get started.

About the Author
Attorney Michael Vosilla is LaFountain & Wollman, P.C.’s Senior Associate, who currently resides in Brighton. As an immigration lawyer, Attorney Vosilla has secured green cards and citizenship for countless clients, and he is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).