Why You Need a Will
A will is a basic legal governing document that establishes who will receive your owned belongings when you die.
Essentially, your will will include specific directions regarding the distribution of your estate and tangible property. Without creation of a will, the state you reside in at the time of your death will determine division of property and personal items. Once you have a will, it’s important to review it once every so often to ensure that it’s updated and still aligns with your future wishes.
What is a Will?
Your assets are important, but what happens to them when you die? A will is a fluid legal document which dictates distribution of your property once you pass away and it has no effect until then. You can make changes to your will as you see fit, whenever you choose, but there are requirements by state law dependent upon where you reside that your will must comply with. These include factors such as witnesses present, whether it be handwritten or typed, etc. It also can contain the naming of guardians for minor children, the sources that will pay estate taxes or debts due, and an executor who will be responsible for the settlement of your estate. Wills require your signature, as well as those of the witnesses and a public notary’s oath which will validate the legality of the document.
Why Do I Need a Will?
Without a will, you will not be able to determine who will receive your property or belongings in the event of your passing. Whether you are married, divorced, childless, or in good or bad health, without one, the state you live in has a default plan which will dictate distribution of your things. If you have no relatives to be survived by, the state will not allow or permit distributions to charity, a friend, or non-related persons; instead, your property will become the property of the state.
Corporate vs. Individual Executors
If you have significant property or investments, choosing an executor can be an extremely important decision. Placing this responsibility on a loved one, if they aren’t familiar with your assets or lack experience in helping take control once a loved one has passed, it might be best to leave your belongings with a corporate executor. Corporate executors are highly recommended if your will provides distributions to a trust owned and held by a bank or other financial institution/trustee.
With proper and prior planning, this situation can be easily avoided by planning to create a will and stick to it. Regardless of any situation, you should have an input and the only input regarding the distribution of your property and assets.