Do you think that estate planning is only for those with extreme wealth and that there is no reason for an everyday person to have one? This may be a common and damaging misconception many have about estate planning. Estate planning can involve the implementation of important legal tools to help protect yourself, your loved ones, and your goals for the future. A last will and testament, for instance, can be one such important legal tool.
Here are three reasons why you should have a last will and testament:
1. It can set forth how you would like your assets to be distributed.
If you do not have a last will at the time of your death, your assets may be distributed in accordance with the law of the state in which you reside. Depending on your state of residency, you may not be happy with how the state will want to distribute your assets. Additionally, if you own property in multiple states, then you may have multiple state laws conflicting with each other on the appropriate beneficiaries for your property. With a will, you can dictate how you want your assets distributed and you can eliminate confusion and potential conflict.
2. A will can identify who you would like to raise your children.
If you have minor children and you die without a last will, your children may be raised by their other parent. If that other parent is also deceased or is not fit to raise the children, a judge who has never met your children may make a determination about who is the best person to raise them. Indicating who you would like to raise your children in your will can let your family, and the judge, know your wishes so that they can be honored.
3. Wills and testaments can set forth who you would like to manage your children’s inheritance.
You can also establish how you would like your last will to be managed in the event that your children are minors at the time of your death. If you have minor children and you die without a will, your assets may not be able to go directly to them. Instead, they may go into a trust managed by a trustee until the children become adults. If you do not create that trust in your will or by some other estate planning vehicle, then a court may select a trustee and create the trust for you. By establishing the trust in your estate plan, you can identify who you believe should manage the assets in the trust and how you would like them to be managed on behalf of your children and distributed to your children.
For help navigating the estate planning process, please contact our office for assistance.