You may not think so, but having a will is one of the most important things you should have on your to-do list. You don’t want to leave your family and estate at the mercy of your state. It is worth the time to decide what you want – not the state.
When you have a will you get to decide how your estate is handled. Making these decisions now can save your family headache and prevent disagreements among family members.
Here are 5 reasons you need to draw up a will:
1. Think of your children
It is important to have a will if you have children that are minors. It is a hard decision, but you will want to designate a guardian for you children in the event of your death. You don’t want the courts to decide the fate of your kids.
2. Lower estate taxes
You want to lower any taxes on your estate as much as possible. The value of anything you gift to family or charity organizations does reduce the overall estate value used to determine any estate taxes due.
3. Choose who takes care of your estate
You will need to choose an executor of your will. The Executor ensures all your affairs are in order. The executor will pay off bills, send notices to your banks and financial organizations, and cancel credit cards, just to name a few of the executor’s duties.ds, and notifying your bank.
4. Shorten Probate
All estates have to go through some kind of probate process, even with a will in place. However, if you don’t have a will the process can be lengthy.
5. Donations and gifts
A will gives you the ability to donate to your favorite charities or gift friends and family some of your assets. This is a very personal way to let others know you thought of them.
Is a basic will good enough?
If you don’t have many assets and are under the age of fifty then a basic will should suffice. You may not even need an attorney for this type of will. If you have many valuable asset or any complex business issues, then you probably want to get the advice of an attorney.
A basic will still covers many of the reasons listed above, such as leaving your property to people you choose, naming your children’s guardian and identifying your executor.
Does a will cover it all?
There are some areas that a will doesn’t cover, so be aware of these.
Funeral directions- These cannot be covered in a will so make a written document with your wishes and let your family know about it now.
Shared Property/Insurance — a will won’t cover living trusts or money from life insurance (anything that already has a beneficiary.) If you share property with someone else, then this property is not included, either.
Estate Taxes- You can’t avoid taxes, but some trusts can reduce or postpone when taxes are due
Probate- Even with a will, there is still probate which can take 3-12 months to get through
Pets- While you can name someone to have your pets, you can’t actually leave money or property to an animal
Special Care- If you have someone in your life that you want to make sure is covered for long-term care you will have to get a special needs trust. Setting up this trust through an attorney can ensure that person has income without impacting any government benefits they are entitled to.
While every situation is different there is one thing we all have in common- the need for a will. Spend a little time now thinking about it and you can have some peace now.