It’s a question I am asked all the time by young adults who are just getting started with their life. Why is having a will so important? When someone dies without a will, their assets are distributed according to a statutory formula that doesn’t specifically take into account their wishes and unique circumstances leaving their loved ones to deal with the details of settling their estate. Without a will, their estate is settled with the supervision of the court and a court appointed person called an executor or Personal Representative. The executor will make decisions regarding your children and your possessions for you through a process called probate. This could take months, or even years, and add to your loved ones’ grief. It’s important to note that not all estates must go through probate. If it is considered a “small estate”, it doesn’t require court supervision to be settled.
Don’t Be Like Most Americans: Get a Will
Less than half of all Americans have even the most basic estate planning documents, and experts say that seventy percent of all Americans don’t have a will. It’s difficult to understand why so many voluntarily give up their freedom to decide what will happen to their assets when they die. However, it’s easy to get busy with your everyday life and make excuses why you put it off for another day. Before you get distracted with other priorities, think about how important you are to your family and answer these questions.
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then you need a will:
- Do I care what happens to my children when I die?
- Do I care what happens to my belongings when I die?
- Do I care who gets my money when I die?
It’s the only way to make sure that people in your life know exactly what you want them to do in the event of your death. Your will removes a lot of stress and helps your loved ones make decisions quickly and with peace of mind.
Keep Your Legacy in Mind
If you are a parent to one or more children—especially if they are young—then a will is an absolute must. It makes crystal clear who you want to be guardian of your children if you pass away.
Most of us also have possessions that are special to us. These could be things that are worth a lot of money, like our homes and cars, or things that have little monetary value but a great deal of sentimental value, like your grandfather’s fishing rod or great aunt’s Christmas ornaments. In either case, you ensure that the things that matter most to you during your life will end up exactly where you want them after your death.
Creating a will doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost a lot. But it is one of the most important legal documents you have for yourself and those you care about. You should have other basic estate planning documents as well for business matters to go smoothly.
If you want the freedom to decide how and to whom your property will be distributed, you need a will. Don’t put it off. Show your family that you love them by planning your estate.
Our attorneys at C.E. Borman & Associates can help you make important decisions about estate planning.