The moment you become a parent, you need a will. The same is true once you acquire any kind of asset that you want to give to someone after you die. It’s really that simple.
The reasons why so many people don’t think they need a will fall into a number of different categories. However, the two biggest ones are described in an article appearing in the Pauls Valley Daily Democrat titled “More on estate planning myths.” Chances are good you’ve heard them before, but you may not have heard why they are plain old wrong. Here’s why:
“I’m young, so I don’t need a will.” This is not true. One of the most important parts of a will for a young couple, is a provision that designates a guardian—the person(s) who will care for their young children in the event of their mutual death. This is rare, although it does happen. To make matters worse, what if there’s a family fight for custody of your children? Make this selection so the court isn’t forced to select a guardian for your minor children if the event arises. A will can give you peace of mind concerning the care of your children.
“I really don’t have much of an estate, so I don’t need a will.” This is also not true. Even if you don’t have young children, a will is essential for the distribution of your personal effects. Surprisingly, even some very large estates have been contested simply because of disputes over small items.
Large cash amounts can typically be resolved without difficulty because the details should be provided in the will. However, sentimental family items, like jewelry, family photographs, a valuable baseball card collection, and other articles become the source of conflict and lawsuits. A will can clarify your wishes.
An estate planning attorney will also advise you to use techniques like Payable on Death transfers, TOD deeds or other non-probate transfers that simplify and speed up most asset transfers after death without probate. Nonetheless, it’s still smart to have a will prepared as a backup, in case you’ve forgotten to provide for the transfer of any asset.
The following is what most people fail to understand. When family members are grieving from the loss of a loved one, objects that may not have any market worth, suddenly attain great emotional importance. Families have been fractured over something as simple as a serving dish. When there’s no will, the simple items as well as assets of great value can become a battle ground. A will gives you the opportunity to map out exactly what you want to happen to these objects, valuable or not. An estate plan is a gift to your heirs, providing clear directions from you after you are gone.
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