Frequently Asked Questions about Estate Planning & Wills

Serving Clients in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville, and all of Northwest Arkansas

What is a Last Will and Testament?

A last will and testament is a legal document that communicates a person’s final wishes pertaining to possessions and dependents.

What should be in a Will?

These are the basic things you should include in your will.

A paragraph declaring this to be your Last Will and Testament. Some words to say this Will revokes all prior wills.

Your name.

Your spouse’s or significant other’s name and relationship even if estranged.

Your children’s names (even if disinheriting) and dates of birth. Specifically disown any children you want to disown. A list of the people who will get your stuff and how much they get. If you forgot anything in the specific gift list, a catch all to distribute the rest.

In case of a family emergency, in which you have no descendants, to whom the remainder will be left. Often this is a charity.

DIY Will?

You should not just do a will yourself. There are legal things you may not know or think about. For example, restricting the right to marry is a Constitutional issue. You can use an online program to help you generate a will. But, I have seen the results and that people forget to sign ALL of it. Also, many of the stand alone and online programs cannot give legal advice. You are at the whim of what questions they ask.

Why have a Will if I have a Trust?

The will shall simply “pour over” anything that was not put into the trust, into the trust.

For example, you sell a home, and buy a new home. But you forget and don’t title the new home in the name of the trust. However, the will shall catch the home and put it in the trust.

It still has to go through probate, but it should be a short and simple process.

In a trust based estate plan, the role of the Will is to act as a “catch all” for anything not titled into the trust. If everything is in the trust, the Will would not have a purpose or roll in an estate plan.

How can a Will affect Medicaid?

Oh boy. It takes an example to show you how the reciprocal (“I Love You”) Will can affect Medicaid.

First, we need a married couple. Their names are Husband Harry(H) and Wife Winnifred(W).

Second, we need Wills. H’s Will gives everything to W. W’s Will gives everything to H.

Third, W needs Medicaid. H&W move assets around as allowed, and get W qualified and on Medicaid. H owns a good deal of the couple’s assets now.

On the way for his daily visit to see W, H gets hit by a bus (meteor, lighting, etc.) and dies.

H’s Will gives everything back to W. Now W has assets in excess of what W is allowed to have. W just became disqualified for Medicaid until W spends down to her $2,000 (as of 2016) asset limit. 

What is the difference between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament?

A Living Will is a medical wishes document.  It spells out what care you do and don’t want if you can’t make your own medical decisions, are permanently unconscious or the end is near.

A Last Will and Testament goes to work after you pass.