Preparation of your legal last will is important to ensure that your assets are distributed in the manner you wish after your death and so you can make financial arrangements for your close relatives.
If you do not make one, the law could decide what happens to your estate and it may not be what you would have wanted. Wills can be quite complex, especially if you have complicated financial or family situations. However, in most cases a standard format of legal Will can be appropriate for the task.
We offer many different, suitable for different family circumstances and designed for use in estates where inheritance tax advice is not required and where the legacies are straightforward. Who should have a will: Anyone who cares how his/her property is distributed upon his/her death, or who would handle matters for those she or he leaves behind, or be guardian for minor children.
Can a parent disinherit a child? : Normally Yes. It is necessary to specifically say the omission is intentional. Often Wills have language along these lines: "I have previously taken care of my daughter Joan during my lifetime, and have chosen to leave nothing. Similarly, I am leaving nothing to my son Michael, for reasons known to both of us."
Examples of Famous people Wills
Linda McCartney Will (1942-1998)
On her death in April 1998, Linda McCartney, a crusader for animal rights and vegetarianism, left her substantial fortune to her husband Paul, the former Beatle. Linda McCartney set up a trust that makes her estate virtually exempt from taxes.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. Will (1960-1999)
John F. Kennedy, Jr. planned to leave the majority of his possessions to his spouse, Caroline Bassett-Kennedy, or their children. But unfortunately, John and Caroline tragecally died in a plane crash. However, they didn't have any children, so his property was inherited by the children of his sister, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. Most of his estate was distributed among the beneficiaries of a trust he created in 1983. Kennedy also left the scrimshaw (carved whale ivory) once owned by his father to his nephew John O.K.. Schlossberg. Kennedy's cousin, Timothy P. Shriver was named the executor of the wills. Kennedy's estate was reportedly worth $100 million at the time.
Joe DiMaggio Will (1914-1999)
According to his will, "The Yankee Clipper" set up trusts for Joseph Jr., his grandchildren Katherine and Paula, and his great-grandchildren, Kendall and Mitchell Stein, and Valerie and Vanessa Harm. The Steins received $250,000 each, while the Harms received $500,000 each. The remainder of DiMaggio's estate was divided among his son and his two grandchildren.
Diana, Princess of Wales Will (1961-1997)
When Princess Diana died tragically on August 31, 1997 she left behind a 21.5 million pound (approximately $35 million) fortune, most of which was bequeathed to her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. The inheritance will be held in trust for the two princes until they reach the age of 30. In her will made public on March 2, 1998, Diana also left 50,000 pounds to her former butler, Paul Burrell, and set aside personal moment for her 17 godchildren.
Marilyn Monroe Will (1926-1962)
The legendary sex symbol, who tragically committed suicide in 1962, left most of her fortune to her friends and family.
Warren Burger Will (1907-1995)
The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court left behind a self-written, 176-word will. He gave his entire estate to his two children. But he failed to give any power to his executors and made no provisions for estate taxes. These apparent oversights will cost the estate thousands of dollars.
Doris Duke Will (1913-1993)
The $1.2-billion estate of the tobacco heiress was a subject of litigation. Two co-executors to Duke's estate were ordered out by a New York judge. The court found Duke's butler Bernard Lafferty had been wasting the estate to pay for his "squandering style of life" and that the United States Trust Company was not able to slow down Lafferty in his spending spree.
Jerry Garcia Will (1942-1995)
The Grateful Dead leader was an icon of counterculture. He left a last will that included his family and friends, as well as giving away personal mementos such as his guitars.
Harry Helmsmen Will
Harry B. Helmsmen was a New York real estate billionaire who owned the Empire State Building as well as some of New York City’s most luxurious hotels. He died on January 4, 1997, with an estate that was estimated to be $1.7 billion. Helmsmen named Leona Helmsmen as the executor of his will and the sole heiress of his estate, with the exception of a bequest to a secretary.
David Packard Will (1912-1996)
Hewlett-Packard's co-founder left most of his assets, valued at $6.6 billion to the charity foundation named after him and his wife. The David and Lucille Packard Foundation became one of the wealthiest charities in the world through this transfer of assets.
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson Will (1889-1951)
Because of his involvement in the 1919 World Series "Black Sox Scandal", this legendary baseball player was forever banned from the sport. In 1995, his will was subject to litigation when two charities that were beneficiaries of his estate sued to acquire the original will due to its value for collectors of sports memorabilia.
John Lennon Will (1940-1980)
The Beatles' singer, songwriter, and guitarist, who sang "imagine no possessions" in the popular hit "Imagine," left most of his property to an estate controlled by his wife, Yoko Ono.
Richard Nixon Will (1913-1994)
The only president to resign from office gave specific instructions for the handling and disposal of personal notes and records.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Will (1929-1994)
As the first lady, Onassis planned the restoration of the White House and urged Congress to declare it a national museum. The art and personal possessions she collected have fetched large sums in recent years at celebrity auctions.
Elvis Presley Will (1935-1977)
Known as "The King," Presley sold more than 45 million records and starred in 33 motion pictured. He left much of his vast fortune to members of his family.
Babe Ruth Will (1895-1948)
"The Sultan of Swat" was raised in an institution for children with limited means. Ruth, who was the most famous home run hitter, became a nationwide figure. Ruth was well-known for his charitable acts. He once said he would hit a homer to help a sick child in need. One year before his death, he founded and endowed the Babe Ruth Foundation for homeless kids.
What is a Will?
A will is a written or oral communication by a person stating how they want their property disposed of at death.
A will that has been witnessed and signed with all of the formalities required by provincial or state law. This is the most common will.
A will that is hand written without the presence of witnesses. Very few provinces and states recognize these types of wills, and only in limited, specific circumstances.
This type of will in an unwritten disposition of property, whereby the individual orally communicates his of her wishes. Oral wills are only recognized in a few states and usually only in compelling situations.
A living will allows you to decide whether you desire life support under certain circumstances, not in all sates or provinces.
A Trust is a legal property interest held by a person (trustee) for the benefit of another (beneficiary).
A trust that is created while you are alive. A living trust allows the trustee and beneficiary to avoid the probate process.
A trust established through a will. A testamentary trust generally must go through a probate.
A trust that can be terminated at any time by the grantor for any reason.
A trust that cannot be changes or terminated for any reason.
Note: Some states and provinces may be different.
Why Make a Will?
A Few Reasons
1. A most difficult time is easier for loved ones.
2. Name who is the guardian of your children.
3. Prevent bitter family battles.
4. Smooth out the legal process.
5. Specify who gets your assets.
6. Protect the family home or business.
7. Minimize legal costs.
8. Your last written word on earth.
You have heard people on radio and TV, seen ads in your papers and even other sites on the web for as much as $39.95 (ouch) for their last will and testament or legal will kit.
Advantages of a Trust
1. Property in a living trust does not go through a probate.
2. The trust document is never made public like a will
3. You can name alternative beneficiaries to inherit property if a primary beneficiary dies before you do.
4. Allows others to handle your assets when you are not able to.
Legal Will Requirements
You must be of sound mind. This means that you must:
- Be at least 18 years old or legal age for the state or province you are living in or an emancipated minor.
- Know what a will is.
- Know that you are making a will.
- Understand the relationship between yourself and the people who care for you (i.e. immediate family members, including spouse and family).
- Expressly state that this document is your will.
- Sign and date the will.
- Signed ("attested") by at least two or three witnesses:
The number of required witnesses depends on province or state law. It is recommended the witnesses not be related to you.
Must have on substantive provision that:
- Appoints a guardian for any minor children
- Lists who inherits specific items.
- States what happens to remaining property not specifically mentioned in the will.
Must appoint an executor:
- Responsible for supervising the distribution of property.
- Makes sure that all your debts and taxes are paid.
It is suggested that:
- If you had previous wills, instructions should be provided as to where they may be located as this will is the only one in force.
Requirements for a Trust:
- Valid declaration of trust form.
- Sign over the required deeds for property such as homes and automobiles that will be included in the trust.