Have you created a Will yet? If you haven’t, you’re not alone.
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that specifies how you wish to distribute your assets and property after you pass away. It is a foundational estate planning document that all adults should have in place. Although extremely important, many people pass away without creating a Last Will because they don’t think they need one.
Related documents: Last Will and Testament
Why should I make a Will?
There are many reasons to prepare a Will earlier in life, particularly if you have children who are minors.
If you have kids and die without a Will, the state will appoint a guardian for them. This person might not serve their interests as well as your choice of guardian might have. Creating a Last Will allows you to take care of your children by ensuring that they end up with the best guardian should something unexpected happen to you.
With a Will, you can dictate who will inherit from you, known as your beneficiaries. You may also choose to specify the individuals who you don’t want to receive your assets. A Will allows you to ensure that any family heirlooms are passed on to your heirs and not sold to cover debts. Furthermore, having a Will in place speeds up the probate process for your executor and can reduce estate taxes.
What if I die without a Will?
Dying without a Will is called dying intestate. Should you die intestate, the government will decide what happens to your assets. Wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in the matter?
Every jurisdiction has its own intestate succession laws that determine how to distribute a deceased person’s estate. For the most part, the deceased person’s spouse and blood relatives will inherit their assets if they die without a Last Will. Unmarried partners (including common law and domestic partners in some states) won’t necessarily inherit anything from your estate. Consequently, estate planning is even more important if you want your domestic partner to be your main beneficiary.
If you have a spouse but no children, your property can go entirely to your spouse or be shared with other family members, depending on where you live. If you have a spouse and children, your estate might be divided among them. Typically, your children will inherit your property if you have no spouse.
What if I have no surviving relatives?
In the rare event that you have no spouse or living relatives (including parents, siblings, or grandparents), your assets become the property of the state.
Instead of leaving the fate of your assets to the state, you could designate close friends or your common-law partner as beneficiaries. You can also decide to donate your assets to a charity. By doing so, you can leave a legacy.
Additionally, you might have requests about your pets should you pass away. You can outline these requests in your Will and appoint someone to take care of our animals after you pass.
Dying without a will takes away your right to decide what to do with your assets. But having a Will in place allows you to create a legacy, make a difference, and decide the fate of your assets.
If you don’t have a Last Will, LawDepot’s template can help simplify the process. You can create your Last Will and Testament today for free.