Creating your Will is perhaps of the most critical thing you should do. It is not just for you, but for your family. Not only will a Will protect your spouse, children and your assets legally, it also helps you decide, how you want your estate and affairs be handled after you pass away.
Everyone might have different reasons for creating a will. But here are the top, most common reasons to have a Will
1. You can decide how you want to divide your estate:
A Will ensures your estate is divided, the way you want, in a legally binding manner, once you leave the world. If you die intestate (without a legal Will) your estate might become a cause of dispute among people who think they have a right to it. The legal Will will ensure that there are minimum squabbles over your property.
2. Taking care of your children:
A will also helps you decide as to who will care for your kids, if they are minors. If you fail to have a Will, the court can take it upon itself to choose among family members or even a state-appointed guardian. This is not a great thing for you or your kids.
3. Avoid lengthy probates:
All estates must go through a Probate Process. This is irrespective of whether there is a Will or not. However a Will, speeds up the probate process. The court has documented proof of how you would like your estate divided. Probate courts serve the purpose of ‘administering your estate,’ and when you die intestate, the court has the authority to decide how to divide your estate. This could possibly cause long and unnecessary delays.
4. Reduce your Estate Taxes:
A Will is also allows you to minimize your estate taxes. This is another good reason, why you should have a Will. The value, equivalent of what you give away to family members or charity will reduce the value of your estate when it’s time for the beneficiaries to pay estate taxes. They will benefit.
5. Closing your affairs, the way you intend to:
Executors of Wills are responsible for making sure that all affairs are in order, including paying off bills, cancellation of credit cards, and notifying banks and other business establishments. You can appoint a trustworthy Executor of your Will to make sure all the processes run smoothly. Thus you are still in control, when you are not around.
6. Disinherit unworthy individuals:
You can disinherit unworthy individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit from your property. You can clearly outline how you would like your estate distributed, that in the absence of a legal Will might end up in the wrong hands or with someone you do not want to share your property with.
7. Make gifts and donations:
You can outline the gifts you want to make to deserving people or organisations (from your personal property) in your Will. A Will allows your legacy to live on and your decisions reflect your values. Another aspect to note here is gifts up to $13,000 are excluded from estate tax. So, by having a Will you will also be increasing the value of your estate for your heirs and beneficiaries. Be sure to check the current laws on the same.
You can change your Will at your will if your circumstances demand that. Life events such as births, deaths, and divorce can create situations where changing your Will might prove to be necessary for you.
No one can forsee the future. Lack of willingness to accept death as part of life, often leads to procrastinating having a Will. This is infact among the more common reasons for not having a Will.
To avoid the added stress on families in an already emotional time, you should meet with a lawyer now to help you draw up a basic estate plan at the minimum before it’s too late. Be sure to read ‘What not to include when making a Will’ for more information.
Consult a lawyer when you are drafting a Will. You will find it much easier and the chances of legal loopholes in the document will be nullified.
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