Updated: Jan 7
By: Attorney Shira Truitt
Having a will is an important aspect of estate planning. It ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you transition. Moreover, it can help avoid conflict and legal challenges among your loved ones. Believe it or not—everyone has a valid will! The real question is who wrote your will? If you didn't write it, the state has one for you! The other good news: EVERYONE knows EXACTLY how the state will distributes assets—so everything is clear. However, it may not be what you want. Not sure about that? Here are a few key reasons why having a will is important:
Clarify your wishes: A will allows you to clearly state how you want your assets to be distributed among your beneficiaries. This can help to avoid any confusion or uncertainty about your intentions. In my experience, where there's uncertainty, there are two people who believe they are doing what you would have wanted—even if the actions they are taking are mutually exclusive!
Protect your loved ones: Without a will, state laws will dictate how your assets are distributed, which may not align with your wishes. By having a will, you can ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and that your assets go to the people you want to have them. This is very important, since you—not the state—should decide how you want things to happen.
Appoint guardians for your children: If you have minor children, a will is the only way, in most states, that allows you to appoint guardians to take care of them in the event of your death. This can provide peace of mind knowing that your children will be cared for by the person you have chosen.
Avoid probate: Probate is the legal process of distributing a person's assets after their death. Having a will can help to streamline this process and avoid costly and time-consuming legal proceedings.
Reduce conflict: Without a will, it is more likely that your loved ones will engage in disputes over your assets. It's the difference between celebrating your memory and waiting until the funeral is over! A will can help to minimize the potential for conflict and ensure that your wishes are carried out.
In conclusion, having a will is an important aspect of estate planning. It allows you to clarify your wishes, protect your loved ones, appoint guardians for your children, avoid probate, and reduce the potential for conflict among your beneficiaries. It is never too early to start thinking about creating a will, and it is important to regularly review and update your will as your circumstances change.
For more information about wills and other estate planning tools, see my video at https://youtu.be/g19YXYOhnX8 .