A will is a testamentary device that allows you to leave your assets to the persons that you choose. You will need to name a primary beneficiary and a secondary beneficiary. Generally, we distribute a person’s estate in percentages since the assets in an estate are always changing.
However, you can leave specific items to specific persons. This is referred to as a specific devise. An example of this is leaving your cabin to your brother. If your cabin is sold prior to your demise, then your brother gets nothing.
The balance of your estate is referred to as the residuary estate. This term refers to everything else that you own at your time of death that passes through probate. It does not include items that passed to beneficiaries in a different manner:
Joint ownership of an item that passes automatically to the survivor upon the demise of one of the joint tenants.
Tenancy in Common:
Joint ownership of property, but each party has an undivided 50% interest in the property and the decedent’s 50% interest passes via the decedent’s will.
Paid-On Death Beneficiary:
This is a beneficiary listed most commonly on bank accounts. It allows the account (asset) to pass automatically to the named beneficiary with the presentation of the owner of the accounts death certificate.
Commonly listed on life insurance and retirement plans. It passes to the named person upon the demise of the person whose life the life insurance is on, or the owner of the retirement plan. Generally, there is no tax on life insurance. However, the deferred benefit on a Retirement plan is generally subject to taxation at the rate of the person whom inherited it.
In your wills you will also need to name a personal representative. The personal representative is the person who is named in the will and the court appoints to take care of your estate after your demise. All of our firm’s wills come with a personal property memorandum which allows you to leave specific personal property items to specific persons.