Many people are unaware of all the important reasons there are for having a will. Here, we share nine reasons and invite you to book your free consultation with a legal team member at any one of our nine office locations to learn more and get started.
Minimize estate taxes.
Do you know that even after death, you will be taxed? Well, not “you” but the government does tax your estate. This includes your money, home, vehicle, and everything else you own. However, anything included in your will that you would like to give away to your family members or to charity reduces the value of your estate meaning your estate taxes are minimized.
You decide who will take care of your minor children.
It is something no one wants to think about but it is important that you make an informed decision about who should take care of your children should you pass away while they are still a minors. Without a will, the court will choose among family members or a court-appointed guardian. In your will, you can appoint the person (or people) you want to raise your child (and ensure they do not end up with someone you do not want to raise them).
You decide how your estate will be distributed.
Without a will, there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out. It does not matter if you told your family members or anyone else - Unless it is in your will, you are leaving it up to chance. Having a will helps minimize family fights about your estate and outlines the details (the “who, what, and when”) of your estate.
To avoid a lengthy probate process.
While it may come as a surprise, even if you have a will, your estate will still have to go through the probate process. However, this process will be much faster if you do have a will because it will inform the court how you would like your estate to be divided. After that, the court need only know that the wishes in your will were carried out by your executor(s). When you die without a will (known as dying “intestate”), there may be arguments regarding who should administer your estate and how the estate should be divided.
You decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate.
An executor is the person who is charged with making sure all of your affairs are in order. Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to, paying off your bills, canceling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other establishments. This is an important responsibility and, via your will, you will appoint someone who is trustworthy, fair, and responsible. The person you appoint may be a family member but it does not have to be. If you do not leave a will appointing an executor, you may end up having someone administer your estate you would otherwise prefer not to be involved with your affairs.
Because you can change your mind if your life circumstances change.
A will is only final upon your death. Until then, you can make changes to it for any reason - births, deaths, and divorce are just some examples of reasons you might decide to change your will.
You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit.
If you have a will, you have final say over who inherits your estate. If you do not have a will and the court makes the final decision, it may be left to the wrong person or go to individuals you would prefer it did not.
You can make gifts and donations.
While no one lives forever, your legacy can live on in the form of gifts and donations you outline in your will. You can choose to support a cause or mission important to you. An additional benefit to do this is because gifts up to a certain value are excluded from estate tax so you are reducing the size of your taxable estate.
Because tomorrow is not promised.
While it may be unsettling, we must all accept death is a part of life. Acknowledging this and understanding that a will is just another way to ensure your loved ones are taken care of upon your death will help to reduce stress on them during an already emotional time.
Even a basic estate plan is better than none at all so if you aren’t sure it is necessary, consider coming in for a free consultation to speak with one of our legal team members. We can answer your questions and help you to get started so that you can rest assured that your loved ones are always taken care of.