Having a will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family.
Not only can a will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can also spell out exactly how
you would like things handled after you have passed on.
While each person’s situation varies, here are the top 9 reasons to have a will.
1) You decide how your estate will be distributed.
A will is a legally-binding document that lets you determine how you would like your estate to be handled upon your death. If you die without a will,
there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out. Making a will helps minimize any
family fights about your estate that may arise, and also determines who, what, and when your
beneficiaries will get their share of your estate.
2) You decide who will take care of your minor children.
A will allows you to make an informed decision about who should take care of your minor children. If you don’t make a Will, the court will
take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian. Writing a will
allows you to appoint the person you want to raise your children or, better, make sure it is not
someone you do not want to raise your children.
3) To avoid a lengthy probate process.
Contrary to common belief, almost all estates must go through the probate process, with or without a will. Having a will, however, speeds up the probate
process and informs the court how you’d like your estate divided. Probate courts serve the purpose
of administering your estate, and when you die without a will (known as dying intestate), the court will
decide how to divide your estate, which can also cause long, stressful delays.
4) You decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate.
Executors make sure all your affairs are in order, including paying off bills, cancelling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other
business establishments. Because executors play the biggest role in the administration of your
estate, you’ll want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trust- worthy, and organized (which
may or may not always be a family member).
5) You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit.
Most people do not realise that when you do make a Will that you can disinherit individuals out of your estate. Yes, you
may wish to disinherit individuals who may otherwise inherit your estate if you die without making a
will. Because wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, without making a
will your estate may end up in the wrong hands or in the hands of someone you did not intend.
6) Make gifts and donations.
The ability to make gifts is a good reason to write a will because it allows your legacy to live on and reflect your personal values and interests.
7) Avoid greater legal challenges.
If you die without a will, part or all of your estate may pass to someone you did not intend. One example involved the estate of a deceased son who was awarded
over $1 million from a negligence law claim. When the son died, the son’s father (who had not been a
part of his son’s life for over 32 years) stood to inherit the entire estate, leaving close relatives and
siblings out of the picture.
8) Because you can change your mind if your life circumstances change.
A good reason for making a will is that you can change it at any time while you’re still alive. Life changes, such as
births, deaths, and divorce, can create situations where changing your will are necessary.
9) Because tomorrow is not promised.
Procrastination and the unwillingness to accept death as part of life are common reasons for not writing a will. Sometimes the realisation that wills are
necessary comes too late such as when an unexpected death or disability or incapacity occurs. To
avoid the added stress on families during an already emotional time, it may be wise to meet with an
estate planning lawyer to help you draw up a basic estate plan at the minimum, before it’s too late.
And bonus tip number 10!
“If you don’t have a will the law will decide who gets your estate – and it might not be who you would want.”
- Take CONTROL!
- PROTECT your assets!
- Give your family and yourself PEACE OF MIND!
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This article was written for Homevisitwills by Sharon Longa and Colin Chapman