Whether we’d like to think about it or not, for most of us, a will is a necessity. Even those with very few assets should consider a will in order to make certain that their final wishes are known to loved ones after they have passed. It’s a mistake to assume that your family knows how you want your property distributed after you pass – it may be true – but that doesn’t mean that all your family members will be on the same page when the time comes. A well-drafted will can remove any uncertainty about your final wishes and also prevent conflicts and even litigation amongst family members.
If you’re married your husband or wife, by law, would receive all your property upon your death if you die without a will. If you’re married and have children and pass without a will, then your wife would receive half of your assets and your child or children would split the other half. However, you would prefer to make your own decisions instead of relying on a statutory formula then you need a will. Additionally, if you have children from another marriage or other family members to whom you’d like to leave some of your property, then a will is necessary to make sure that your wishes are known as they would likely be excluded from the state statutory distribution formula.
It’s important to remember that wills are not just about property. If you have young children at home, particularly if you’re a single parent, you need a will in order to name a guardian for your child or children in the event you die. Even if you have a spouse, it’s not a good idea to rely on the hope and expectation that your spouse will survive you. The decision as to whom will care for your children if you and your spouse pass away while they are still minors is too important to leave to chance or the decision of a judge.
Without a designated guardian for your children your family members may be forced to engage in costly litigation and ultimately a judge, who knows next to nothing about you or your children, may decide who will be awarded guardianship of your children until they reach the age of majority or are otherwise emancipated. Don’t take the risk of leaving your children’s future in the hands of others in the event you and your spouse pass away while they are still under the age of 18. A professionally prepared will can go a long way toward protect the most valuable asset you will ever have, your children.
If you’re in need of a new will or need to make changes or update an existing will, give us a call. We have drafted wills and other estate planning documents for many local satisfied clients.