Are you one of the 50% of the adults who have no will?
If so, what are you waiting for?
Are you waiting until you make more money or have more assets?
Are you waiting until you have kids, have a house, or for some other "important" thing to happen?
Chances are already very likely that you have a compelling reason to make a will today.
What is a Will?
A will is a document you can create to designate who gets your estate when you die. Your estate encompasses everything you own. Your money, your car, your house, your home furnishings, your jewelry, etc.
Even if you don't own all of those things, do you care who receives what you do have?
If so, you need a will.
Here are five reasons why.
1 - A Will Gives You Control
Putting your intentions into a will gives you the control to give your property to whoever you want. You can divide it among all your relatives or give it to only one of them. Or even give it all to a friend or a charitable organization.
If you want your favorite watch to go to one of your grandchildren, unless they are your only living relative, you need to either put it into your will (or give it to them before you die).
If you live in a community property state that says everything you own jointly with your spouse goes to them when you die, but you want it to your children, again, you will need to put that in a will.
2 - If You Have No Will, Someone Else Will Decide Who Takes Care of Your Minor Child(ren)
If you are married and leave behind your child's other parent, they will likely take care of your child.
But what if they choose not to? Or, tragically, what happens if you both die at the same time, such as in an auto accident together.
Who will take care of your minor child(ren) then?
By making your will, you can designate a specific person to be your child's guardian. You can pick someone you trust and someone you know cares about your child's well-being.
Don't leave it to the court's to decide.
3 - Reduces the Time for Distribution of Your Estate
If you die without a will, you die "intestate" and your estate (everything you own at the time of your death) will have to wait for the court to process your estate in probate court.
If you've made a will, the court's can simply follow your instructions, which speeds up the process (provided your will is valid and enforceable). Having an attorney check out your will is a good way to make sure your will avoids these problems.
4 - Reduces Your Estate Taxes
If your state has an estate or inheritance tax and meets the value requirements of your particular state, your estate will be charged taxes. These taxes will need to be paid before any of your beneficiaries receive their inheritance.
However, one way to reduce the value of your estate is to make gifts to a charity upon your death.
5 - You Can Leave People Out of Your Will
While this may sound harsh, there may be good reasons to leave people out of your will that would otherwise inherit under the rules of intestate succession.
Either your own personal feelings about them or because receiving money from your estate would be detrimental to them legally.
If you die intestate, the court will distribute your estate according to your state's laws.
For instance, in Louisiana, the court's will look at whether the property is community property (owned by both spouses) or separate property (owned by just the decedent). The community property would go first to the spouse, but the separate property would go first to your children.
So if what you wanted was for your spouse to get both the community property and your separate property, you would need to say so in a will.
Don't Put Off Making Your Will
As uncomfortable as it may be to think about what may happen after you pass on, you'll be surprised to find that by preparing your will, it will provide you with some peace of mind.
Remember: If something happens in your life that makes you change your mind about something you put in your will, you can always change it.
If you have no will, or would just like answers to more questions about wills, please contact an attorney today.
None of us know what tomorrow may bring.
Start your preparation today.