Having a last will and testament of your wishes after you’ve passed away is an important tool that your family will need to put your affairs in order. A will protects any assets you owned, your spouse, and any minor children. If you had any wishes that you wanted acted upon after your death, you’d need a will to make those requests known to your loved ones. The reasons each person needs a will can vary, but there is general agreement that a will makes finalizing your affairs less complicated. You don’t need a large sum of assets to need a will, advanced directive, or overall estate plan.
There are many reasons you’d want a will or estate plan, like:
- Legal Rights After Death: Even if you don’t have considerable assets if you own anything that would fall under the category of your estate, a will ensures your legal rights to make determinations about your property after your death. A legally executed will is a binding document, and if you have one in place, you can determine what happens to your assets. You will have the final say over who gets what, when, and how.
- Custody of Minors: If you have minor children, they are your most valuable asset. A will allows you to make provisions for your minor children in the event of your death. You want to have a voice in who cares for your children and what happens to assets associated with their care. If you don’t have a will in place, the court system will make those choices for you or assign a state-appointed guardian to care for your children.
- Avoid a Long and Costly Probate: If you have a small estate or limited assets, the probate process can eat into your assets and prolong the time it takes for your heirs to receive any inheritance. Even if you have a will, the goal of the probate court is to administer your estate, so the process will be shortened if you have a will. If you die intestate, or without a will, the court will determine how to divide your assets instead of using your will for guidance.
- Tax Reduction: If you have a small estate or limited assets, you may receive more significant benefits from a will than you realize. A will allows you to minimize your estate taxes and protects any value of your estate. The assets you leave to your family and charitable entities reduce the tax liability of your estate.
- Choosing a Representative: If you have a will, you can also assign an executor for your will to ensure your affairs are handled appropriately. You will want someone you trust, and you are confident will conduct your final affairs. An executor will make final acts like paying bills and canceling your credit accounts, and alerting your banks and creditors of your death. This person doesn’t have to be a family member, but they should be trustworthy and task-oriented.
- Prevent Inheritance: While it’s not pleasant to think of, there may be persons you’d wish not to receive anything from your estate. If you wish to disinherit people who would typically inherit your assets, like close family members, you will need a will to make this preference part of your final wishes.
Talk to an Attorney About the Reasons You Should Have a Will
A will can be a powerful legal tool even if you have modest assets. An attorney can help you draft a will that reflects your wishes, and this can be done without extravagant costs to you. It can be overwhelming to write a will or DIY the process as there may be state laws that you don’t know, so if you need assistance with creating an estate plan, our dedicated attorneys are available for a consultation. Call today at (931) 361-4477 to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.