Updated: Apr 30
Created by National Legal Solutions Center Wills and Trusts specialists.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family is to have a Will so that your wishes are clear and can be followed through as you wish. A Will legally protects your spouse, children, and assets.
If you have at least one thing that means something to you like a bank account, car, grandpa’s hat, etc., you have an estate. While each person’s estate is different, here are some reasons you should consider a will:
1) You are in control of your assets and how they will be distributed. A will is a legal document that you create to describe how you would like your estate distributed upon your death. Without a will, your desires will most likely not be carried out the way you would like. Having a will helps minimize any family disputes regarding your wishes and also spells out who has a right to your estate, what they can have and when they can have it.
2) Avoid a lengthy probate process. All estates must go through the probate process, with or without a will. However, a will 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. If you die without a will, known as dying “intestate,” the court decides how to divide estate, which can cause long, unnecessary, expensive delays.
3) Minimize taxes. A will allows you to minimize your estate taxes. The value of what you gift to family members or charity will reduce the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.
4) A will records who you would like to take care of your minor children. Without a will, the courts will make this decision and appoint a family member or a state-appointed guardian. A will legally appoints the person of your choice to raise your children and not someone you don’t want.
5) It allows you to indicate who you would like disinherited. Your children stand to inherit from your estate, and if there is a child or children you would rather not have any of your assets, a will can spell that out and is legally binding. You can disinherit other individuals as well. Because wills detail how you would like your estate distributed, absent a will, your estate may end up in the hands of someone you did not intend (such as an ex-spouse).
6) Determine gifts and donations. A great reason to have a will is the ability to make gifts, since it allows your legacy to live on and reflect your personal values and interests. In addition, gifts up to $13,000 are excluded from estate tax, so you’re also increasing the value of your estate for your heirs and beneficiaries to enjoy. Be sure to check the current laws. An attorney can help you with this.
7) You can always change your mind. A will can be changed at any time throughout your life as much as you like.. There are many examples on how life can change where a change to your will is needed. Things like, divorce, births and deaths can be some of these reasons.
8) Tomorrow could be too late. Don’t procrastinate; it has happened too many times where the denial of death as being inevitable has been a main reason for not creating a will. It is not just for your wishes after death but for an unexpected disability, too. Let an attorney help and draft a will for you if only to relieve your loved ones in an already stressful time.
9) Avoid other legal issues. If there are other circumstances such as a court settlement, others who you did not intend can stake a claim or inherit the whole thing.
10) You decide who will manage the affairs of your estate. Executors manage all your affairs including paying off bills, canceling your credit cards and notifying businesses you have accounts with including banks. Be mindful to appoint only the most honest and organized executors since they have the biggest role in the administration of your estate. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a relative or even a beneficiary.
There are many more reasons to have a will, don’t let it overwhelm you. Let an expert attorney help. Contact Us.