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A Last Will and Testament should be a part of every estate plan. In some cases it will be the document that expresses your wishes regarding who will handle your estate and who the beneficiaries will be. When combined with a revocable living trust, it will serve to direct that any assets that are not part of the revocable trust should be transferred to your trust to be administered by the trust. When used with a trust it is called a "pour-over" will.

It is important to remember that your instructions contained in a will are only valid with assets that are in the sole name of the decedent, with no joint owners and no beneficiaries. Title always controls, so if an asset is held jointly with another, in most cases the title will control who will receive that asset. If a beneficiary is designated on the asset, like life insurance, the asset will pass to that beneficiary.

In order for a Will to operate, it must be admitted to a probate court and determined to have been executed properly. There, the court will appoint a personal representative to handle your estate, who is usually designated in the Will.

It is not uncommon for an asset to pass to someone other than one designated in a Will due to the manner in which the asset is titled or the existence of a beneficiary.

Before proceeding with your estate plan, give us a call to discuss how your estate will be handled with a Will.

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