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