Once you put your list of assets together, you may change your mind about letting a complete stranger decide who gets what. That’s what happens, if you don’t have a will.
There are always good reasons to delay having a will made, and women tend to delay more than men in addressing this important task. They may think that they don’t have enough assets to warrant a will, expect that their spouse will take care of it or are intimidated by the process. It’s really not that complicated, and it is also very necessary. In the absence of a will, the state will make decisions about distributing your assets, not family members.
goerie.com’s recent post, “5 reasons to have a will,” gives you some ideas to ponder before you talk to an estate planning lawyer.
What’s your net worth? Create an accurate statement of your net worth. List your significant assets, and don’t forget life insurance and retirement benefits. Make sure that you talk with an estate planning attorney to understand what assets pass through the will and which are non-probate assets. You should then consider to whom you’ll leave them, including family members, friends and charities.
What should be done for your care in your final days? Talk about your advanced medical care directive (or “living will”) and powers of attorney. These are important for lifetime planning. An advance medical directive states what actions should be taken for your health if you’re no longer able to make decisions for yourself because of illness or incapacity. A power of attorney gives another person the authority to act on your behalf on legal or financial issues.
Who will care for your kids? If you have minor children, think about who should be responsible for their care and upbringing if you pass away. In other words, who’ll be their guardian if both parents die or if one of the parents has been irresponsible and/or unable to care for the children? If you plan ahead, you avoid having a judge making that decision for you.
Do you want your 18 year old inheriting a large sum of money? If state law says that a child can inherit at age 18, that’s what will happen without a will. However, an estate planning attorney can help you create a plan so that a child or children will inherit certain amounts at specific times. You can tailor a plan that suits your family’s needs and abilities to manage money and property.
Reference: goerie.com (March 1, 2017) “5 reasons to have a will”