Many people ask why do I need a will? Well, when someone dies it is an emotional, stressful and painful time for their family and friends. Anyone over the age of 18 should have a Last Will and Testament. If a person dies intestate, meaning without a will, their family has to contact the Probate Court, and all of their assets are then divided according to the laws of the Probate Court in the state they live in. The court will decide how those assets will be distributed and to whom. A person’s estate includes but is not limited to bank accounts, real estate, investments and personal property. Going through Probate without a will can be a very long and expensive process.
Therefore, a will is needed so loved ones will know what the wishes are of the deceased person. It must be noted that just because a will is in place this is not an insurance that family members or loved ones will not contest the will and fight over what they feel is their rightful share. Wills are contested daily but a valid will is the descendant’s voice against that person contesting the will.
What assets a person wants and who they want to leave those assets to are listed in a will. Through a will a specific item can be gifted to a specific person. For example, if you want your diamond ring that your mother gave to go to your niece you can list that in your will. Without a will this ring will go into the estate and be divided as if it was just another ring. The court does not care about sentimental items. If a relative is to be disinherited, a will can be accomplished this by specifically stating in a will that that person is not forgotten but is not to receive any assets. On the other hand if there is not a will, there is a good chance they will receive part of the estate.
A will is so much more then just a tool to distribute your assets. Designation of guardians for the care of minors or handicapped children can also be set forth in a will. For many parents this can be a piece of mind knowing that their children will be taken care of by the people they feel comfortable with. Without a will the court, not the family will decide who will be the guardian of minor or handicapped children.
Directions and wishes about the funeral, burial services and how the services are to be paid are usually listed in a will. Most people state that all last bills for medical care and the services for the funeral and burial should be paid first and foremost before distribution. In order for this to happen at least one person is named to pay the bills, make the funeral arraignments and distribute the assets. If the court is involved this process can be delayed.
People also use their will to let family and friends know what to do with pets and sometimes even leave personal messages for loved ones. Everyone over the age of 18 needs a will to be able to express their wishes and sometimes their thoughts after they have passed away. Without a will everything is out of the hands of the family and straight into the hands of the Probate Court.