If you’re like most people, you haven’t thought about writing a will. Sure, you’re sometimes reminded of wills when you’re reading a mystery novel or watching a crime drama, but what do they have to do with you?
If you haven’t thought of a will in connection with your own life and circumstances you are in the majority. However, writing a will offers some real benefits for you and your family. Some of the most important things to consider in the process of making a will are the welfare of your family and the disposal of the assets and wealth you have worked so hard for. Making a will is a responsibility that you owe to your family and yourself.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will?
One major reason why people avoid writing or even thinking about writing a will is the reluctance to confront one’s own mortality. But much like a life insurance policy, a will is a way of providing for your family, especially your children, in the event of any unexpected and unforeseen death. It is also a way to acknowledge people who might not be related to you, charities, and organizations that you would like to support.
By choosing the executors of your will, you ensure that your wishes regarding your assets are met. Without a will naming an executor, the state decides on the disposal of your assets. A probate court does not automatically transfer all assets to your family. Probate courts can also take a long time to release assets and can add to the costs and put an unnecessary burden on your estate, reducing the value of your family’s inheritance.
Who Should Make a Will?
Particularly for people with minor children, a will is essential in order to name a guardian who can look after them if you are no longer there. Wills can be changed as your life circumstances change. If you create several wills, the one with the most recent date will be used. A codicil can also be used to make minor changes to a will. In order to be considered legal, a will has to follow state laws.
Many people think that wills are only for the wealthy. They couldn’t be more mistaken. Anyone who has any assets – bank accounts, a house, a car, dependents who will need to be cared for in the future, minor children, or pets – needs a will. A will can be made by anyone who is over the age of 18 and of sound mind and body. A will that is properly created and witnessed is extremely difficult to contest and ensures that your final wishes will be met.
Five Important Reasons to Write a Will
There are five main reasons that you should create a will in order to ensure the disposal of your assets according to your wishes.
1. When making a will, you can divide your assets as you want
When you write a will, you are making sure that your assets are divided the way you want. In your will, you can specify what assets you want to leave to family, charities, friends, or other organizations that you wish to support. Objects having sentimental value, as opposed to monetary value, can sometimes become the focus of conflict among relatives. With a will, you can make sure that all items and objects are left to the individual of your choice.
2. By making a will, you can protect your children
Making a will allows you to protect your children in all circumstances. If your children are young, you can make sure that they have a trustworthy guardian to take care of them. Unless you specify a guardian in your will, the state will decide who will look after your minor children. Making a will allows you take care of your children financially as well. Sometimes a will can create a trust for minor children in order to ensure their financially security.
3. Reduce the burden on your family
A will that clearly specifies your wishes will make things easier for your family. If the final wishes and your estate are clearly specified in your will, there is less potential for conflict over the division of your assets. By eliminating conflict, specifying the division of assets, and providing financial support and guardianship, a will lets you care for your family even if you are no longer present to provide for them. It is often very difficult for a family to plan the disposal of wealth and personal belongings of a deceased relative. By making a will which clearly specifies these, you can make a difficult time of transition a little bit easier for your family. Even if you are no longer there, they know that you have thought of them and their welfare.
4. Eliminate Disputes
A will lets you select a trustworthy executor and plan the beneficiaries and distribution of your estate. The executor can be a friend, a relative, or a lawyer that you trust to follow your wishes exactly. A will that specifies the exact distribution of your estate also reduces the chance of disputes between family members. A will allows you to specify who should inherit money, furniture, real estate, or personal belongings and allows you to disinherit specific relatives, though some state laws stipulate that surviving spouses cannot be completely disinherited.
5. Lower Taxes
Estate taxes and legal fees can eat up a lot of your estate and greatly reduce the value of the inheritance you leave for your family. By planning ahead, you can significantly reduce these expenses and make sure your family receives the assets and wealth you worked so hard for.
A will lets you protect and provide for your family in the event that you no longer can be present to care for them. It allows you to control who will benefit from the resources and assets you have worked hard for all throughout your life. Creating a will is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself and for your family.
Updated: March 28, 2014