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Trusts, Wills & Estates
The law of wills, probate and estates regulates how a person's assets will be distributed when they die. Writing a will helps ensures that a person's wishes are carried out after you die. Wills primarily provide for the distribution of assets and property. However, wills can also provide for other wishes, such as re-homing of a family pet. The property and assets under a will are referred to as the estate.
If a person dies without a formal will, they are said to have died 'intestate'. Each state has different law concerning how property will be distributed if a person dies intestate.
When a person dies leaving a valid will, in most cases property and assets are distributed according to the will. A person is nominated executor by the will. The executor is responsible for administering the estate, including carrying out the legal steps necessary for the transfer of any property. A person who receives property or assets under a will is called a beneficiary.
If your financial affairs are straight forward, writing a will can be relatively simple. Nevertheless, a poorly expressed will can result in many problems, especial if complex issues are involved such as estate claims, tax considerations or beneficiaries with disabilities. If circumstances change in a person's lifetime, their will should also be changed to accommodate this.
In some cases, even if there is a valid will the Court will order that the division be different to the wishes of the person who has died. This may happen if the division was in some way unfair on the relatives of the person who wrote the will. Because of this, it is essential that you ensure your property and assets are protected by a will be consulting a solicitor.