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You probably have one of those, “this is something I need to get done” lists either on paper or floating around in your head. Exercise more. Sleep a few extra hours each night. Eat a vegetable or two. Write your will.
Arguably, shuffling those items around on your list might happen from time to time. But one thing you should put at the top of your “to-do” list pronto is letting others know what should happen after your death. Sure, it’s unpleasant, but here are seven reasons you need to make a will a priority.
If you have kids, you need a will. This document allows you to make choices about who is going to take care of minor children if you die prematurely. If you don’t have a will, the courts could step in and do something you wouldn’t like.
Even if your children are grown, a will can prevent unnecessary conflicts between siblings. It can be hard enough for brothers and sisters to agree. Just lay it all out in black and white to keep the peace.
Wills are legally-binding documents that allow you to state how your estate will be handled upon your death. You get to say who gets what assets as well as who gets nothing at all.
You can give some money to charity or split it all between your immediate family. It’s your choice. Without a will, you risk an ex-spouse, an uncle you’ve never met, or other estranged family member making a claim on your estate.
Absent a will, estate taxes could eat up a significant portion of your assets. Both the federal and state government get to tax what you leave behind. You can minimize some of this by reducing the value of your estate with a will.
Contrary to popular belief, all estates must go through probate, with or without a will. But, having a will allows your survivors to avoid a lengthy probate process, which can also be costly in terms of legal fees and unnecessary delays.
If you have a business, a will and a living trust are good ways to pass your company along to co-owners and your heirs. A surprising 70% of family-owned businesses don’t extend past the first generation, often because of a lack of estate planning.
Thinking about how you’ll be buried, or not, isn’t pleasant. But, wouldn’t you rather decide these details than leave them to chance? Your will, which is part of your estate plan, allows you to outline precisely want you’d like done, down to as much detail as you wish.
Few people plan to die young, and unwillingness to accept the inevitable is no excuse for lack of preparation. Once you have a will in place, it’s going to give both you and your loved ones peace of mind.
It’s a common misconception that wills are only for the wealthy. This isn’t the case. A will is a must if you have minor children, and it ensures that your assets go to the parties you designate. Without this document, the process of distributing your estate can be long and costly.