There are not many people that would argue that a will is not an important document to have in place before you pass away. Your will outlines what happens with your belongings and wealth after you are gone. Unfortunately, there are many people that delay on having a will drawn up. This is somewhat understandable, because let’s face it how many people want to spend time planning for their potential death, and what life for their loved ones will be like afterwards.
There are many reasons for having a will in place today, we outline a few key ones below:
- You get to choose how your estate is distributed. You can make your instructions as detailed as you like. They can include more than just property and money. That family heirloom that has been passed down for generation will end up in the hands of the person you trust to take care of it, your children and significant others will get their share of your estate, as you intended it to be disseminated, reducing the chances of family getting into an argument over what is fair.
- You can plan for and minimize how much of your estate goes to the government through taxes and other judgments. Depending on your situation, the government can end up with the largest portion of your estate, leaving your family with reduced rights to your estate if a will is not in place.
- With a will in place your family will not be forced to pay additional fees and incur more costs to have your estate settled. This reduces adding more stress on your loved ones during an already stressful time.
- If your children are under the age of 18 and you have sole custody, you will be able to select who will be their immediate guardian until at least a judge can make a permanent decision. Who you appoint to take care of your children, normally plays a role in who the judge grants guardianship to.
- If your children are younger and you are concerned that they would not be able to responsibly handle your estate, you can appoint a trustee in your will to manage the funds on their behalf. This individual is normally a trusted family member or friend that would look after your children’s best interest until they reach a certain age. In some cases the funds can be made available in multiple stages, for example half available when your children turn 24 and the other half at 27.
If you do not currently have a will, we suggest having a family law attorney help you draft one. The lawyer will have the experience to guide you through the process and will help ensure your document is legal and binding. If you already have a will in place, don’t forget to periodically review it to ensure that any changes in your life such as having children or going through a divorce are reflected in your document. A lawyer can assist with these updates as well.