If you are one of the 70% of Americans that do not have a will, it’s time to make a change. A will does not have to be complicated to prepare, but it does need to meet the requirements of your state in order to be valid. When you die without a will, it’s referred to as dying intestate, and it places an unnecessary burden on your loved ones. Your property will be distributed according to your state’s intestate laws. The court will decide who takes your children. When you die intestate, your family and loved ones don’t get to make those decisions.
A Guardian for Your Children
If you have kids, you need a will for the purpose of designating a guardian if nothing else. If the other parent is alive, it’s not an issue. But what if you are both killed in the same motor vehicle accident? It happens too often. If you don’t designate a guardian, it’s up to the court to decide who will care for your child. The court is supposed to act in the best interest of the child and will usually choose a close family member, but it may not be the person you would have chosen, even if you have made your preference clear to your friends and family.
If you don’t have a will, don’t assume that your property will automatically go to your spouse and/or children. In most states it will, but it may not transfer in the way you would expect and it could create problems for all of them.
Please, don’t put it off until it’s too late. Talk to an estate planning attorney right away about creating your will. If you already have a will, make sure it is still valid and up-to-date.