Why a Will?

08/03/16
The death of Prince left us poorer for the loss of a unique musical talent. The tragedy is magnified by the news that he may have died without a plan in place for his vast estate.
 
Unfortunately, this scenario is far too common: A majority of adult Americans do not even have wills, the simplest way to ensure that upon your death your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.
 
Some 70 percent of us will spend a lifetime working, accumulating an estate, and caring for a family and loved ones and then die without appropriate planning. When this happens, distribution of property proceeds according to state laws. Often this distribution of property is not in accordance with the wishes of the person leaving the estate. Probably no other document in your lifetime is as important as your will.
 
With a will you can:
•   determine to whom, how, and when your assets will be distributed;
•   name an executor who will manage the estate in accordance with your intentions;
•   create trusts for your spouse, children, or others, thus providing income for beneficiaries as well as            saving taxes; and reduce and sometimes eliminate estate taxes.
 
The time to prepare a will is when you are healthy. This allows you the time to fully explore the options for distribution of assets to the people and causes that matter most to you.
 
In planning your estate, you are able to make gifts to an organization such as the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center. The Sarver Heart Center can never receive funds from the estate of an individual who dies without a will. When donating to the Sarver Heart Center, you may determine the amount to give (specific assets, a specific amount or a remainder or percentage of your estate), choose if your gift is to be endowed for permanent use or spent on immediate needs, and most importantly, specify how you wish your bequest gift to be used.

Gifts to the Sarver Heart Center are not subject to federal estate taxes and so could significantly reduce the tax burden of an estate. The value of the bequest may be deducted when the taxable estate is determined, and there is no limit to the deduction.

A will should not be made and forgotten; periodically it should be reviewed and revised. To ensure that your exact intentions are carried out, consult with an attorney specializing in estate planning and a member of our planned giving staff when preparing your estate planning documents. Please contact Cheryl House, CFRE, senior director of development, (520) 626-6022, chouse@email.arizona.edu.