A Complex Will sets forth the wishes of the person writing the Will, the “Testator”, and distributes assets after his or her death with certain restrictions or instructions. For example, a gift in a Complex Will might read “to my husband, Joe, if Joe survives me, for his life, and at his death the remainder to be distributed to Mary.” The gift is held for Joe’s benefit and use for his lifetime.
Other restrictions can also result in a Will being considered a Complex Will. For example, a gift may be held for the benefit of a child until he or she attains a certain age, or attains a certain goal, such as after graduating from college. These restrictions imply that a Trust will exist for the benefit of the person receiving the gift until the restriction lapses.
A Complex Will can be likened to a movie beginning at the Testator’s death. The movie captures what the Testator owned at death and continues until the restriction lapses or the goal specified is attained.
A Complex Will only disposes of the Testator’s probate assets, which are those assets that are owned by the Testator, in the Testator’s own name, alone, at the time of the Testator’s death. It will not dispose of any assets which were held jointly with right of survivorship by the Testator with others, or any assets on which the Testator named a beneficiary (i.e., a payable on death beneficiary).
Writing a Will does not ensure that Probate will not occur. A Complex Will must be administered through a Probate Court, as it often contemplates that a Trust will be formed after death for minor children or other beneficiaries. The administration of such provisions may result in an expensive, and lengthy, probate of the Complex Will. Also, a Complex Will must be filed after the Testator’s death and becomes public record, meaning that anyone could see the specific provisions for your beneficiaries.
Should you have any questions about Complex Wills, Estate Planning or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.
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