What is a will?
A will is a legal document that lays out an individual’s wishes regarding the distribution of his or her assets after death. In addition, a will can explain wishes regarding the care of an individual’s children and pets, and outline funeral and cremation arrangements. Generally, a will applies to assets that do not have beneficiary designations and can allow you to distribute things such as bank accounts, real property, and prized heirlooms. A will also allow you to designate gifts to charity on your death.
Why should you create a will?
Failure to create a will leaves decisions about an individual’s estate up to state law. A will allows you to clearly lay out your wishes and ensure your assets and children go to those you intend.
What makes a will valid?
In Oregon, in order for a will to be valid it needs to be a written document that is signed before two witnesses. Those witness will then need to state under oath, usually before a notary, that they watched the individual sign his or her will. A failure to properly create a will, will result in the will being declared invalid and in that case the state law will determine how an individual’s estate will be administered.
If I have a trust do I also need a will?
Yes, if your estate plan includes a revocable trust, you will also have a will. This type of will is identified as a “pour-over will.” On death, the pour-over will, will funnel assets that were not transferred into the trust during lifetime, into the trust on death.