Apr 162012

What are we learning this month at the American Institute for Paralegal Studies paralegal school?

Paralegal school: Why it is important to have a wil

by:  Janet Russeth, J.D.
AIPS Paralegal School Instructor

Paralegal school covers many topics. One of the most important topics affects all of us:  Wills and Estates.  It is so important to have a will and yet many of us do not.  Do you have a will?

When someone dies without a will, they die intestate. The decedent’s property then passes according to the state laws of intestate succession. In general, intestate succession laws determine the identity of heirs, set for the rights of family members, and establish guardianship of minors. Thus, the state law determines the distribution of property to the heirs and it may not necessarily coincide with the decedent’s wishes.

 There are many advantages of having a will.  Some advantages to having a will are: (a) one can select the people who or institutions that will inherit from one’s estate, (b) one can name a guardian for one’s minor children, (c) one can choose who will be the personal representative of his or her estate, and (d) one can leave property to others in trust. Having a will ensures that the testator’s (decedent who died with a will) wishes are carried out as to who inherits what property and who will become guardian of any surviving children.

Although, writing one’s own will can be risky for a layperson because the law of wills is highly technical and differs widely from state to state. Laypeople who write their own wills are often not aware of the many rules that apply to the writing of a will. In addition, they are unfamiliar with the true meaning of some of the terms that are commonly used in wills. They tend to throw in all of the legal mumbo jumbo without really understanding the legal consequences. The money you spend on an attorney is certainly worth it when you are talking about your estate and heirs.

Paralegals working in an Estates practice often help prepare drafts of wills, review drafts of wills with the supervising attorney and client, gather documents upon the testator’s death and track expenses. You can learn more about wills in the Wills and Estates course at the American Institute for Paralegal Studies paralegal school.

To find out more information on the AIPS paralegal school Wills and Estates class, please visit:

http://www.youtube.com/AIPSParalegal or the curriculum page of the AIPS website or our advanced course page

 Paralegal School Instructor Janet Russeth


  •  April 16, 2012
  •  Posted by at 9:45 pm
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