No one wants to think that they need a will. A will is something that only older people need, not young and healthy people. But the sad truth is that everyone needs a will.
A will is a legally binding document prepared by a lawyer, or in connection with a lawyer. In some cases an individual may create a will on their own, but it needs to be notarized and signed in the presence of a witness. A will carefully lays out an individual’s plans for their property, and anything else they may own at the times including stocks, bonds, money, or businesses.
Any person who decides to create a will can, provided they are over the age of eighteen, or sixteen in some states. The person must be willing and able to provide detailed information, and provide verification of their identity. They will also need to revoke all previous wills and codicils prior to creating a new will. After creating the will, two witnesses must sign and date the document, and the witnesses must be people not listed in the will. The person must also sign the will himself, and if the will is not signed, it can be contested in court.
For gay and lesbian couples, a will can be extremely important, especially with laws prohibiting same sex unions. If one partner dies, and there is no will, the living partner may loose everything from their house to any shared businesses by the closest living family member. There have been cases where a partner’s estranged family has come forward and claimed all their assets, leaving the living partner broke and penniless.
A will can also become important if the person has more than one child, or has been married multiple times. After death, families have been known to fight over personal effects and belongings, which can be avoided by the use of a will. You can choose how to divide property, belongings, money, etc. It is also your choice to leave money to certain charities, something loved ones left behind might not consider.
For those with children under the age of eighteen, dictating a will is very important. A will provides for the children’s futures, including legal guardian. If, in a worst case scenario, you and your spouse pass away without leaving a will, guardianship of the children will most often go to next of kin. And if there is no next of kin, then the children could find themselves in foster care. If you want to make sure your children are cared for after your passing, create a will.
Choosing not to have a will opens up a debate over your personal effects, and leaves your family and loved ones unprotected. Some famous celebrities who neglected to leave a will, causing pain for their families include Marvin Gaye, Sony Bono, and Pablo Picasso.
If you do not have a will upon death, the state will determine the beneficiaries of your estate. Usually the estate is split in some way between spouse and living children, but how this is done can be a little complicated. Anything deemed as communal property will stay with the spouse, including property and businesses in both partner’s names. The remaining properties, businesses, and other miscellaneous items will be split equally between the spouse, and any remaining beneficiaries including children, grandchildren, and other close living relatives.
When there is no spouse living, the assets are divided between the children, and when there are no children, they are divided among the closest living relatives. The best way, and only way, to ensure that you have a choice over where your money, children, and property goes after you die, you need a will.