In order to assure the distribution of your assets to your chosen beneficiaries after your demise with the least amount of complication, time and/or expense, a proper estate plan should be put in place.
In the event you do not leave a Last Will and Testament, as is the case with most people, the law of the State where you are domiciled will determine how your assets will be distributed and to whom. This, of course, may or may not be in accordance with your personal wishes. In addition, the Court will decide which of your heirs will be given the responsibility to finalize your affairs.
The execution of a proper Last Will assures that your assets will be allocated to your chosen beneficiaries as you see fit and that the individual or entity of your choice is put in control of your personal and financial endeavors.
Since the Federal Estate Tax Code is customarily amended from time to time, it can be reassuring to have the assistance of an Elder Law Attorney who has knowledge of the dollar amount of the exemptions then available to individuals.
A valid Last Will and Testament can also be used to provide for the handling of the financial affairs of a beneficiary who is a minor or is perhaps disabled or otherwise impaired. Without such provisions, a minor who inherits will have full use of all monies and other assets upon his or her eighteenth birthday, an age which many believe is too young to properly deal with such responsibility.
In addition you must be aware that how you title your property should be given careful and serious thought. Most couples routinely put everything into both names, which works well for those with limited assets by allowing the quick and efficient transfer of property to a surviving partner. However, as families accumulate more wealth, it may not make sense, especially for those in a second marriage with children from a prior relationship.