This is the second part in my series on Wills. Before going into the types of Wills, remember that everyone needs a will. The easiest type of Will is known as a Simple Will a/k/a “The I Love You Will” (I will use them interchangeably).
What is a Simple Will or I Love You Will?
This type of Will is the most common type, and without any proof at all I would say of those people smart enough to have a will, we will go with 82.4%, have this kind of Will (note I completely and utterly made up that stat).
In its barest form the Will directs all assets to the surviving spouse, and if there is no surviving spouse, then to their children. Now you see why it is called the Simple Will. It can, and usually is, prepared by your general practitioner, and is usually cost effective.
As with most things in life, the more complicated your situation the higher the chance you are going to want to work with a specialist.
This type of Will usually covers a person’s basic needs. However, every once in a while I come across one that doesn’t even do that, so even as laypeople we must review the document and if need be have the attorney explain each clause.
What are some basics that this sort of document is likely to cover?
- Spendthrift protection – i.e. some money in trust to the child is of a certain age;
- Who is liable to pay the estate tax due (if any – and if you have a federal estate tax bill this is not the Will for you!);
- Who is to be the executor – i.e. the person who is going to take charge and distribute your assets;
- Any specific bequests you may have;
It is not that I am against these types of Wills; I just find that a lot of people have complicated situations that either a) the attorney turns a blind eye to or b) the attorney does not know what he or she is doing and their ego won’t permit them for admitting it. What are some semi-basic situations where this sort of document is not likely to cover?
- Special Needs Trusts – protecting those heirs that are currently receiving gov’t assistance (I will do a whole post unto itself on this);
- Advanced Spendthrift protection – want to protect this money from creditors and/or divorce for multi-generations, don’t use a simple will;
- Generation Skipping Tax Issues;
- Business transfers – (Qualified Sub-chapter S Trusts or Electing Small Business Trusts)…for all those small business owners;
- Specific bequests you may have
This not to say that paying for a complicated estate plan will provide the above list or getting a simple Will precludes receiving the above list, it is just an observation of what may or may not be included.
Do Not Use a Canned Will Kit or Suze Orman Kit
I have seen on personal finance blogs (and have talked to people) that may have used Blumberg forms, a kit from their favorite TV Personality, or just wrote it themselves A warning on that – each state has its own strict execution and drafting rules, so if you don’t know them chances are your document is not standing up in Court. I have never actually ever seen either a Blumberg form or Suze Orman Kit, so I am not sure if they follow State requirements for execution purposes.
Remember – a simple will is better than intestacy!
Check my disclaimer if you’d like but I am not in the position to tell you what kind of Will you need over the internet, but I will let you know that due to my negative net worth, lack of children, age, etc., I have a modified Simple Will with
one specific bequest.