10 Reasons Why You Should Have a Will
The primary purpose of a will is to provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. According to some estimates, more than half of the population of the United States doesn’t have a will, emphasizing the fact that it’s a step often put off until “later” by many people. If you’re among those hesitating to prepare such a document, there are some very good reasons for having a will you should consider.
You Decide Who Gets What
Without a will, the distribution of an estate is determined by the laws of the state where you officially reside. In some cases, such laws extend access to your estate to half-siblings and some extended family members. With a will, you get to decide who gets what. You can always make adjustments as circumstances change, such as the birth of another child.
You Determine Who Gets Custody of Your Children
In a will, you can specify who gets legal custody of your children should you pass before they become of legal age. If you have no will, the courts will determine which family member gets custody.
Minimizing the Probate Process
If you die intestate, or without a will, the court will determine how your all aspects of your estate are divided, including any holdings that could produce future earnings for your family. While all estates most go through the probate process, having a will can significantly reduce the time involved to make arrangements.
Lowering Estate Taxes
Dividing your assets in advance can reduce the overall tax value of your estate. You can also lower estate taxes by specifying that part of your estate will go to charity. An estate or tax attorney can provide greater input on how to further ease this burden.
You Can Extend Your Generosity
Whether it’s in the form of giving a second home to someone special who’s not related to you or making a large charitable donation, there are many ways you can extend your generosity after your passing with a will. Some people even use a will to establish a grant for needy students or fund scientific research.
You Can Determine Your Burial Arrangements
There are many decisions that will need to be made soon after you pass, including your preferred burial arrangements. Even if family members know your wishes, there may be disagreement over some of the more delicate details. With a will, you can be as specific as you wish.
You Can Exclude Anybody
There is no requirement for you to include everyone who would otherwise be legally entitled to part of your estate in your will. You’re free to exclude individuals for whatever personal reasons you may have for doing so — and there’s usually nothing they can do about it.
Avoiding Family Disputes
Not everyone is going to see eye to eye when it comes what they feel they are entitled to receive after your passing. Minimize the risk of long-running family disputes and endless legal challenges by making it clear who gets what.
Reducing the Risk of Legal Challenges
Even with a will, there may be challenges to some of provisions and allocations you specified. Without a will, however, anybody who is legally entitled to a claim on your estate may take legal action to get what they feel is their fair share.
A Living Will Can Be Included
Many estate attorneys recommend including a living will with your will. In a living will, you’ll be able to specify what actions you want taken should you become physically or mentally incapable of making such decisions. Such a document can also make end-of-life decisions less stressful.
Most states will honor a do-it-yourself will that has been properly witnessed or notarized. Although it’s wise to work with an attorney specializing in estate planning if you complex assets. While it may not be pleasant to make some of the decisions that need to be made when preparing a will, doing so now can prevent unexpected hassles and frustrations for loved ones later.
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