Having a will is a great way to ensure that your assets are distributed as you see fit. While this may not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing estate planning, it’s an important part of ensuring your wishes are carried out.
If you don’t have a will, the state will decide where your assets go after you die. And while some states have laws that stipulate what happens if you don’t have a will (known as intestacy), these aren’t set in stone and can be changed by the court.
The following article will help you understand why every senior citizen needs to have a Will in place for their family and how this document can help protect your loved ones.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that designates how you want your assets distributed once you pass away. The will name beneficiaries to whom you want specific assets to be transferred, such as your house or car or money from your bank accounts.
A will is different from life insurance, which pays out a death benefit to your beneficiaries. A will does not pay out any money to your beneficiaries. The only thing a will does is inform the court about who you want to receive your assets. The will is prepared by an attorney and is typically witnessed by two other people.
The court approves the will after your death if there are no claims of forgery. Wills didn’t always exist. The first recorded will was written in 1044 by a man named Wulfric. In 1066, the Battle of Hastings occurred. King Harold II was killed during this battle and was succeeded by his brother, who became King Edward.
Why Do You Need a Will?
The main reason why you need to draft a will is to make sure that your family is taken care of after you pass away. Without a will in place, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy laws in your state.
In many states, spouses get the first $150,000 of assets, minor children receive the rest, and then other relatives, if any, are listed. With a will, you can choose who gets what assets and who is responsible for taking care of your minor children.
A will is also a good way to make sure that people you don’t want to inherit from you will not receive anything. For example, if you have someone in your life that you don’t want to have access to your assets, you can leave them to charity.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Will?
If you don’t have a will in place, your state will distribute your assets according to the intestacy laws. These laws vary state-to-state and don’t always favor your immediate family. If you don’t have any immediate family members, the government will distribute your assets.
In many states, your spouse receives nothing if you don’t have a will. In other states, your spouse can obtain a percentage of your assets, but it’s far less than what they would receive if you had a will in place.
Who Inherits Your Assets When You Die Without A Will?
This depends on the state where you live. In some states, such as New York, your spouse is entitled to the entirety of your assets unless you have minor children. In other states, such as Florida, if you have minor children, your spouse is entitled to a percentage of your assets.
Furthermore, in all states, your minor children should receive a portion of your assets. Other people who may inherit your assets include your parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
If you don’t have any of these people in your life, your assets will go to the state government.
When Should You Draft a Will?
As soon as you start making money, you should consider drafting a will. The sooner you do it, the more time you have to change it if you decide you want to add or remove people from your will.
A will is important to have in place before you have small children. If you have young children, you’ll want to make sure to leave guardianship of your children to someone you trust.
How to Write Your Will
First, you’ll need to decide who will be the executor of your will. This is the person responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will after you pass away. Depending on the complexity of your will, you may want to choose a family member or a professional financial planner.
Next, decide who you want to inherit your assets. You should have a general idea of what you want to give each person. You can also leave a percentage of your assets to charities if you don’t want to give any one person a large chunk of money.
A will isn’t something that only old people need. If you have any assets, you should have a will in place. Some people are young and healthy but still need a will. If you have a young family, you’ll want to make sure they’re living the good lives after you pass away. Making sure you have a will in place can help provide your family with financial security.
If you don’t have a will in place, your assets could end up going to the state government. A won’t cost much to draft, and it can help your family after you pass away.