A will forms the backbone of most estate plans, but many people put off executing this important document. The following are three important reasons why you need to create a will before it is too late.
Reason 1: Avoid intestate succession
You likely have preferences about whom you do — and just as important, whom you do not — want to inherit your estate. For example, it may be important to you that your grandchildren receive an inheritance, that a portion of your estate goes to a charitable cause or even that funds are left for the care of your pet.
Without a will, these wishes may not be granted. In the absence of a will or trust, the state decides who will inherit your estate. This process is referred to as “intestate succession.” Intestate succession causes problems when the law says a person is entitled to an inheritance that you would have preferred to leave out of your will.
Reason 2: Choose who will care for your children
Parents do not like to think about it, but there is a slight chance they could both pass away before their child reaches age 18. If so, their child will need a legal guardian.
You can choose who will be your children’s guardian in your will, such as a relative or family friend. If you do not have a will and the unthinkable happens, the state decides who is the best person to raise your child, even if this person is not your first choice.
Reason 3: Decide who will administer your estate
When you die, either with a will or without, your estate will likely go through the probate process. Probate is the legal process in which your estate assets are collected, bills are paid, heirs are located and assets are distributed.
If you have a will, you can choose someone referred to as an “executor” to handle the probating of your estate. However, if you die without a will, the court chooses who will administer your estate, even if you would have liked someone else to take on this role.
Do not put off executing a will
As this shows, there are important reasons why you need a will. It can be easy to put off creating one, but you might want to do so sooner rather than later, to avoid problems if the unexpected happens.