Many people mistakenly think that they do not need to create a will. It typically stems from the belief that you do not have enough assets to justify it, or you incorrectly assuming that your assets will pass to your spouse of loved ones. Each state is different as to who receives your property when you die without a will.
If you want to ensure that your wishes are carried out, then you need to have a will in place. Getting a will does not have to be a long drawn out affair with lawyers like most people assume.
Three Reasons You Need To Create A Will
Many assets such as investment accounts, 401k retirement accounts, Roth IRA accounts, and life insurance policies can pass directly to an heir as long as you have filed a beneficiary designation form with the company. Real estate must be owned joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTWROS) to avoid probate and pass to your spouse.
There are several types of ownerships for real estate, and most of them must go through the cost and delay of probate court in order to pass to heirs. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship allows for the surviving owner to pass from the deceased without going to probate.
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Without a will or titling your real estate as joint tenancy with right of survivorship, you are at the mercy of the courts to decide who gets what asset based on the state’s law where you live. It gets even more tricky and expensive if you own real estate in two or more states. While having a last will and testament may not avoid probate, it will direct the court how to dispose of your assets according to your wishes.
Take Care Of Children
One of the primary reasons that you need to create a will is to take care of your children in the event of your death. Who will take care of your children and their finances when you die? What happens if both parents die at the same time, in a car accident for example?
Your will can state exactly who will take custody of your children as their guardian should you and your spouse die. Without a last will and testament your children could become wards of the state. Having a will can ensure that someone you care about and who has the same values as your family will take care of your children in your absence.
Protecting Atypical Families
What used to be considered a typical family is quickly vanishing across America. Now that divorced parents are the majority and not a minority, there are families with two moms or two dads, single parents, or a host of other dynamics, a will is the one document that can protect your family and your wishes.
The government, both state and federal, has not been quick to keep up with the changing dynamics of the modern American family. State laws may have a greatly different view than you as to who your next of kin actually is.
Without a last will and testament, you run the chance of your children and assets not going to the correct person that you want to leave them to. Or, if you want to spread your property around, leave it to charity, or distribute it in an atypical way, you need to have a will that specifically addresses your desires and your family’s unique situation.
Do you have a will? You’re not alone if you do not have one. What’s stopping you? Don’t think you have the time? Money? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks!