The fact that we are mortal and will pass is a touchy subject with most of us because no one really enjoys talking about their mortality. This is especially true when it comes to discussing the creation of your Last Will and Testament. Uncomfortable as it may be, it is something you should consider. If not, will your wishes be honored if you become ill? Will your estate be divided as you wish? In this blog, we look at four benefits of having a will.
Freedom of Choice. One of the benefits, if not the biggest benefit to having a Will is that you decide how your assets are divided. Specifically, by leaving a Will, you choose exactly how specific assets are to be distributed to certain individuals, or, you can choose to leave it all to one person with no specificity of certain assets at all. The point is, a Will gives you the freedom to decide exactly how you want your estate to be distributed. On the other hand, if you do not have a Will, your estate will be distributed according to statute, which can cause confusion and conflict between families. Ultimately, it is your estate, and a Will allows you to determine how it will be handled.1
Speed of Probate Process. Another benefit of a Will is that it helps speed up the probate process. Upon your death, your Will is submitted to the probate court. Once this is done, the Court will open up an “estate” so that your assets will be distributed accordingly. If however, if you do not have a Will at your passing, your estate will be labeled an “intestate” estate. This means that the court will have to determine who all the potential heirs are, do an accounting of the estate to determine the amount each individual will get, determine creditors, etc. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process. With a Will, you can skip all these steps and/or simplify what is already a hard process.
Select an Individual to Handle Your Estate. A third benefit of creating a Will is that you select the executor of the estate. An executor essentially oversees the estate and makes sure that your assets are distributed properly and that all your past obligations/debts are satisfied. Having a Will allows you to select someone you trust to manage your affairs as you would have done. Again, without a Will, this decision will be made by the probate court, which could lead to in-fighting between the family, as well as additional costs.
Name a Guardian for Your Child. This is somewhat of a “bonus” benefit for parents by having a Will, as it is only applicable to individuals who have minor children. But for those of you who do have minor children, this is probably the biggest benefit. With a Will, you can name a guardian for your child upon your death. While every parent certainly hopes to pass after their child is grown, life unfortunately happens. One way to be proactive in such an unfortunate event is to create a Will and name a guardian for your minor child. Again, if you pass without a Will, which could include a guardian, then you are leaving the decision completely to the court.
While it is tough to talk about, you need to think about what will happen when you pass away. Life is sometimes short and always unpredictable. Creating a Will will help you prevent further heartache, as well as make it a little easier on others around you. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all areas of estate planning, including Wills. It is written and posted for general educational purposes and is not to be construed as legal advice or solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.
- There are limitations on Wills, such as not providing for your spouse. These exceptions are beyond the scope of this blog.