Who Needs a Will?

By Angie Epting Morris

Who needs a will? The short answer - everyone. Regardless of age, regardless of wealth – everyone should create a will.

First, some background on estate planning and where creating a will fits in:

Estate Planning was once a simple process of writing out a Last Will and Testament for a lawyer to use for carrying out your wishes. However, now estate planning can mean much more – from instructions for handling your affairs should you become incapacitated while still living, to planning “who gets what” upon your death. Also complicating matters is the sheer number of choices one now faces, such as Statutory Wills, Living Trusts and Pourover Trusts. Many possibilities might need to be considered when deciding what should be done with your assets.

Generally, the term “assets” refers to your estate. For many, the word “estate” calls to mind a large, spacious home, full of expensive collectibles and antiques, and located on a sizable tract of land. But the word “estate” really has a very simple meaning – it is all of the “stuff” you have in your name at your death. Even if your possessions would only fill one shoebox, that small collection would be your estate.

As part of their estate planning, most people employ an attorney to have a will written for them. But as inexpensive as this process can be, about half of all Americans die without one.

So why should you create a will?

While a Power of Attorney can usually handle your financial affairs during your lifetime, it has no legal authority for disposing of your assets after your death. For this, you must use a testamentary document, such as a Last Will and Testament. Without a will to indicate your wishes, the court steps in and distributes your property according to the laws of your individual state. If you have no apparent heirs and die without a will, it is even possible that the state may claim your estate. Finally, having a will is especially important if you have young children because it allows you to designate a guardian in the event of your death. Without a will, the court will appoint a legal guardian for your children, and it may not be who you would want.

Simply stated, benefits of creating a will include:

• You designate who will receive your assets upon your death.
• You name who is to be in charge of administering your estate.
• You may save your family probate costs.
• You can achieve peace of mind, knowing that your affairs are in order.

Estate planning is not just for the rich, and creating a Living Will and Testament is a good place to start.

Related articles:
Who Will Care for My Children If Something Happens to Me?
Who's in Charge If Something Happens to Me?
What Will Happen to My Pets and Livestock When I Die?
What Happens to My Retirement Accounts When I Die?

Also by Angie Epting Morris:
Should I List Who Gets What in a Will?
What is an Estate Executor?
How to Settle an Estate Peacefully
Dividing Estates in Blended Families
Leaving Property to Your Children

Angie Epting MorrisAngie Epting Morris is the author of THE SETTLEMENT GAME: How to Settle an Estate Peacefully and Fairly, a step-by-step guide addressing the age-old problem of how to divide personal property without dividing the family. Her system is widely used and highly recommended by attorneys and financial planners. The book is available on her web site, as well as on Amazon.com.

Photo by Marzie/StockXchng

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