There is no doubt that having a will is one of the best things you can do for yourself and loved ones. Among the many advantages of having a will include legally protecting your spouse, children and assets, as well as contain exactly what you want to happen with your assets and affairs upon your death.
Different people have different reasons why they want to have a will, but the following are the top ten most common reasons:
- You can decide how you want your assets and properties are distributed. A will is a legally binding document which means that whatever is written there—your specific wishes—are enforceable. Dying without a will could mean that since you did not have a legal document that spells out your wishes, your properties and assets may not be distributed according to your wishes, among other things.
- You can decide who you want to be the guardian of your minor children. Without a will, it is the court that will decide who they will choose a guardian from among your close family or a state-appointed guardian. With a will, you can choose exactly who you want without worrying that your children will be under the care of somebody you don’t want or don’t even know.
- You can avoid the lengthy and oftentimes tedious probate process. Whether a person has a will or not, their estate will go through probate process upon their death. What having a will would do is to speed up the process because the court would already know how to deal with your estate as stated in your will. But when a person dies without a will, or intestate, the court decides on its distribution, guided by the laws on intestacy of your state. This could take months or even years before your estate is distributed to your heirs.
- You can minimize estate taxes. Having a will allows you to minimize on estate taxes because the distribution of your assets to the heirs will reduce the value of your estate and therefore reduce the estate taxes.
- You can decide who will be in charge of the affairs of your estate. Your estate executor would play one of the most important parts in managing your affairs after your death including paying bills, notifying your bank and other concerned businesses of your death, cancelling your credit card, etc. For this reason, you want somebody who you really trust, honest and will be able to organize everything for you.
- You will be able to disinherit anyone who may otherwise have the right to inherit. If you don’t have a will, anyone with a legal right may be able to inherit upon your death. But there are times when there are people to whom you would rather not leave anything, that is why it is important to specify that in your will to make sure that all your assets goes to people to whom you intend to give them.
- You can make gifts and donations. Making a will can also help if you have it in your heart to give to loved ones or make donations to your favorite charity. Aside from helping out others, you can exclude a certain amount in gifts from your estate tax; you therefore increase your estate’s value for those who will inherit your estate.
- You can avoid legal challenges. Dying without a will may pass on your estate to someone you did not want or intend. If for example a person won a $1 million award from a lawsuit. When this person died without a will, since he is single and his mother is deceased, his estranged father stands to inherit his estate. This leaves his siblings and other loved ones with nothing.
- You can change your mind depending on the situation. You can change a will that you have already created. If for example there are events in life that may warrant a need to change your will, for example your child gave birth and you want to include this child in the will, then you can do so.
- You are not sure of what tomorrow brings. The general idea of having a will is to prepare for you and your loved ones future. There is a need to be ready for anything that may come, such as unexpected death, and having a will could help make sure that your affairs are in order in case your loved ones are surprised by the unfortunate event. It is advisable to consult with an estate planning lawyer as soon as possible to have someone help you create a basic estate plan before it’s too late.