Having a will is probably one of the most vital things you could do for yourself and your family. In addition to a will legally safeguarding your spouse, children, and assets, it may also detail exactly how you would want things managed after your passing.
While each person’s circumstance differs, listed are the top 10 reasons why you should have a will.
1. You determine how your estate will be divided
A will is legally binding documentation that allows you to decide how you would like your estate to be managed after you pass. If you pass without one, there is no assurance that your planned wishes will be executed. Having a will helps reduce any family disputes about your estate that could come up, and also identifies a what, who, and when of your estate.
2. You decide who will take care of your minor children
A will enables you to make a knowledgeable decision about who will take care of the minor children. lacking a will, the court takes it upon itself to decide among members of the family or a state assigned guardian. With a will, it enables you to designate the individual you want raising your children or, even better, making sure it’s not an individual you don’t want raising your children.
3. To stay away from an extended probate process
Contrary to what many people think, all estates need to go through the probate process, having or not having a will. With a will, nevertheless, hastens up the probate process and notifies the court how you would like your estate separated. Probate court’s goal is to “administer your estate”, and when you pass away devoid of a will (commonly called as passing away “intestate”), the court will determine how to divide the estate without your involvement, that may also cause long, unneeded delays.
4. Decrease estate taxes
One other reason to have a will is because it enables you to decrease your estate taxes. The value of what you allocate to family members or charities will minimize the value of your estate when the time comes to pay your estate taxes.
5. You determine who will wind up the affairs of your estate
Executors ensure all your affairs are in order, including the paying off of your bills, the cancellation of your credit cards, and giving notice to financial institutions and other business institutions. Since executors play the largest role in the management of your estate, you’ll want to make sure to designate an individual that is honest, reliable, and orderly (which might or might not always be a member of your family).
6. You can disinherit people who would otherwise inherit your estate
A lot of people don’t realize they may disinherit people out of their will. Yes, you might want to disinherit people who might otherwise inherit your estate if you pass away without a will. Since wills particularly detail how you would want your estate distributed, without a will your estate could end up in the wrong hands or in the hands of an individual you did not have in mind (like an ex-spouse that you had a vicious divorce).
7. Make gifts and donations
The means to make gifts is a perfect reason to have a will since it enables your legacy to live on and project your personal values and endeavors. Additionally, gifts up to $13,000 are omitted from the estate tax, so you are also increasing your estate’s value for your heirs and beneficiaries to appreciate. Make sure to check the present laws for your year and learn the most up to date gift tax omissions.
8. Stay away from greater legal challenges
If you pass away without a will, parts or all of your estate could pass to an individual you did not want. For instance, one case involved the estate of a dead son that was awarded over $1 million from a wrongful death suit. When the son passed away, the son’s father – that had not been in his son’s life for over 28 years – was in to inherit the entire estate, leaving family members totally out of the picture!
9. Because you may change your mind if your living conditions change
Another reason for having a will is that you can modify it at any time while you are still alive. Life evolves, like births, deaths, and divorce, may create circumstances where changing your will are required.
10. Because tomorrow isn’t promised
Indecisiveness and the reluctance to accept death as a part of life are frequent reasons for not having a will. Occasionally the understanding that wills are needed comes too late – like when an unforeseen death or disability happens. To stay away from the added strain on families during an already sensitive time, it might be wise to speak with an estate planning lawyer to help you create draw up a simple estate plan at a minimum, prior to it being too late.
Speak to a Lawyer About the Reasons to Consider to Having a Will
There are additional reasons for having a will, but it could be overpowering to actually draft one. While understanding your state’s laws is vital, you do not have to be an expert to write it. You can speak with an estate planning lawyer near you that can help you fashion your desires into a legal document.
- “Top Ten Reasons to Have a Will.” Findlaw, 26 Jan. 2018, estate.findlaw.com/wills/top-ten-reasons-to-have-a-will.html.
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