Startling research shows that exactly 100 percent of every person in the world at this time will one day die. Yet, so many of us have failed to plan for that eventuality. A last will and testament allows you to make sure your living estate, your assets minus your liabilities, will be distributed according to your wishes.
Having an up-to-date will is extremely important. It is so important that it cannot be over-stressed. Unfortunately, many people assume that after their deaths, things will automatically settle in a manner that they intended.
Dieing intestate, dieing without a will, means that the courts will freeze all of your assets, authorize payments to all of your creditors, establish your living estate and divide it according to the state’s intestacy laws. These can vary widely from state to state. For example, in Florida, the probate process takes an average of fifteen months and costs right around 15 percent of the estate.
No consideration is given to the your known wishes. If the inheritor of your estate has a need for those funds prior to that 15-month period they may not access it. Any charities or organizations that you may have intended to leave an endowment to will not receive it.
Without exception, everybody needs a will.
If you are married, no doubt you want your spouse to receive the estate as soon as possible. Even if that is not the case and you are leaving your money to someone else or a charity, without a will, they will never get it.
If you have children, many state’s intestacy laws provide that part of the estate goes to the kids, if they are under age the courts may establish a trust for the kids that your spouse will not be able to access. Either way, it is likely that your intentions were to leave the entire estate to your spouse.
If you are single in most cases the estate will go to your parents. Even if that is your wish having them pay the courts and the lawyer and wait all those months certainly isn’t.
Have your will prepared by a professional. After your death is not a good time for your heirs to find that that will you thought you had created does not hold up in court.
Now you may be thinking to yourself that you are financially savvy and you established a living trust. So you do not need a will, right? Even with a living trust, you still need a will. Trusts deal with specific assets, like a life insurance policy or the house, not the total sum of your assets. Anything not specifically mentioned in the trust will be subject to state intestacy laws if not listed in a will.
The legacy you leave upon your death should not be one of discord and hurt feelings. Without a clear last will and testament, family members may start fighting over the estate. These arguments and hurt feelings may last for a lifetime. The death of a beloved family member, your death, should not be allowed to result in fighting and discord.
Everybody needs a will! Consult a professional, a lawyer with experience drawing up wills and in estate planning, and have one drawn up. It will cost you, but not nearly as much as it will cost your heirs if you die intestate.
If your wishes change, then you can amend your will at any time (up until the date of your death). It is a great idea to review your will periodically, especially if your family situation changes; you get married, divorced, your daughter has triplets and you want to leave them something.
You deserve to have control over your money, even after your death. Do not give the state that control. Make sure that your money goes to the cause or individual(s) of your choice. Go see a lawyer, have a will drawn up and review it often and every time your situation changes.