by Tim O’Hare
Having a will isn’t just for the wealthy. It’s a necessity every adult should take the time to prepare, no matter how young or healthy you may be. A will allows you to document your wishes should you pass away.
The purpose of a will is to outline who receives your property and assets (no matter how much or how little) when you pass away, how your assets should be divided, who will look after any minor children, what your funeral and burial wishes are, and even if you wish to be an organ and tissue donor or not.
Not quite sure why you need a will? Here is a breakdown of the top four reasons everyone should have a will:
Secure a plan for your assets and beneficiaries, regardless of where you live. Laws regarding distribution of property vary from one state to the next. If you pass away without a will, a probate court will distribute your property and assets according to the law in the state in which you live, a process called “intestate succession.” Without a will, you allow the state to determine the division of your property. Any assets that you have set up with a designated beneficiary (such as your 401k) are not subject to this process.
Determine who your beneficiaries will be. If you die without a will, the State of Texas will determine the division of your property and who your beneficiaries will be. If you have children, or children from a previous marriage, the division of your assets can be a complicated process. By drafting up your will, you will be able to clearly identify your beneficiaries and how you want your property to be divided.
Designate a guardian for your children. In the event that you pass away while your children are minors, your will can designate who will care for your children after your passing. If you die without a will, the court will appoint a person to serve as guardian for any minor children.
Nominate an executor for your estate. In your will, you can also designate who should serve as executor of your estate. This is the person who will be responsible for dividing your assets and property according to your wishes.
Make things as simple as possible for your surviving family. This may be the most important reason everyone needs a will. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard enough, but that loss can be compounded by the stress of administering the deceased’s estate. Drawing up a proper will, and letting your spouse, children and family members know what your wishes are will help ease the added burden they would otherwise experience upon your death.
To set up your will, work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process. Your attorney will not only explain the legal terms, but will help ensure that your will is set properly so there are no questions in the event of your death. An attorney can also help review your financial assets and confirm who can receive what from your retirement accounts.
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