Most Americans need a will but more than half of them idie without one (or intestate). Why? Dealing with death is not a pleasant topic and not one most people want to handle. However, if you do not have a will, it is important that you understand the implications. If you already have a will and have had a change in circumstances, it may be time to consider changing your will.
New parents, homeowners, and even people without significant assets should write a will. But articulating your final wishes doesn’t have to involve expensive visits to a lawyer. Now, there are plenty of ways to create online wills or trusts, many of which take less than an hour from start to finish.
Avoids State’s Involvement in dividing your assets:
If you die without a will, your state law will determine what happens to your property. According to Giles & Robinson, P.A. this process is called “intestate succession”. Your property will be distributed to your spouse and children or, if you have neither, to other relatives according to a statutory formula. If you have no apparent heirs and die without a will, it’s even possible the state may claim your estate. Without a will, a court will determine who will care for your young children and their property if the other parent is unavailable or unfit.
Do not assume that your spouse will automatically receive your assets upon your death. Without a will, that is most likely NOT the case.
Many people with children believe that the surviving spouse would take all the deceased spouse’s property, especially if the children are young. That is NOT the case. In this situation, the law of most states awards one-third to one-half of the decedent’s property to the surviving spouse, and the remainder to the children, regardless of age.
Similarly, if you have no children, most states, give only one-third to one-half of the estate to the survivor. The remainder generally goes to the decedent’s parents, if alive. If both parents are dead, many states split the remainder among the decedent’s brothers and sisters.
So, If you are married and want your husband or wife to own everything after your death, it is usually a good idea to have a will that says that and avoids any possible confusion or surprise.
If you have real estate property:
In the absence of a will, real estate is likely to be inherited by minors or numerous co-owners, and either result will be costly. Taking the time to prepare your will now can save your heirs significant expense and trouble later.
If you have children, specially minor children:
Having a will is especially important if you have young children because it gives you the opportunity to designate a guardian for them in the event of your death. If you die without a will, have minor children, and your husband or wife did not survive you, a court will appoint a guardian. A will allows you to exercise your right to appoint the guardians who will take care of your children upon the deaths of you and your spouse. Therefore, even if your assets are modest, if you have minor children, you should at least execute a will in order to name guardians for them if they are left as minors with no surviving parent.
Specify Your Will Executor:
Wills lets you name your executor, the person who will oversee the settling of your affairs after you die. Without a will, the court will step in and choose the person responsible for wrapping up your affairs. This person is sometimes called an administrator, and might not be the person you would have wanted. Sometimes, family conflict develops over who should be appointed by the judge. In that case, a neutral lawyer may be appointed, and must be paid with estate funds. In addition, the administrator may have to pay certain fees or post a bond at the expense of your estate, before he or she can begin to distribute your assets.
Wills produced online need to be printed out or mailed to you. All states require at least two people to witness the signing of your will. They need to sign in your presence and in each other’s presence. You don’t want to have the witnesses be people who will inherit under the will. However, the executor, the person you choose to carry out the terms of the will, can and often is someone who will inherit assets under the will. In many states, you have to do a separate witness affidavit that does need to be notarized.
Consider whether you need a lawyer:
In a plain-vanilla situation, an intelligent person with no tax issues can go online and do a reasonable document that would be better than having no will at all. But real life often involves second marriages, stepchildren, special assets like family businesses, property in multiple states, and other situations that don’t always fit into a fill-in-the-blank will with no legal advice. In the more complicated situations that require legal judgment, there was too much of trying to be one size fits all for me to be comfortable recommending the online or computer programs.
Again, most people don’t realize that planning and preparing a will can be quite simple. This site is designed to allow you to create a simple will on-line that will allow you to decide who will handle your estate, who will take care of your children, and where your property will go. Whether you chose to do it yourself here, or consult an attorney, it is important that you take the time now to confront this issue and get it done.