Do I Need a Will?

Counsel from a Sarasota Probate Attorney

This is a common question that lawyers hear. After all, when a person dies, his surviving family members get his property, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Let’s take a look at the reasons why you should have a will.

1. You should have a will if you want to decide who receives your property upon your death.

Without a will, your property is distributed according to the intestacy laws. These are laws that give priority first to a surviving spouse, then to descendants, parents, siblings, and last to other family members. What if you want your siblings to receive your property instead of your adult child? What if you want your cousin to receive a special family heirloom instead of your spouse? Without a will, you have no say in how your property passes.

Furthermore, the intestacy laws make no provision for gifts to charity. What if you would like to make a gift upon your death to an animal welfare group whose cause you believe in? Without a will, you cannot ensure that such a gift will be made.

2. You should have a will to designate who will make important decisions.

When a person dies, someone designated as the personal representative (commonly referred to as the executor) has to administer the estate. Administering the estate means taking inventory of the assets, paying creditors and taxes, and ensuring that the correct people receive what they are entitled to receive. With a will, you designate the personal representative. Without a will, the court will appoint a personal representative. This may or may not be someone you know and trust.

Do you have minor children? If so, who do you want to be their guardian in the event of your death? Without a will, the court will make that decision. Of course, the court will be guided by the best interests of the children in doing so, but you may have preferred someone different.

3. Having a will can actually end up saving money.

By having a will, you can save money in several ways, including: taking advantage of the estate tax laws, reducing or eliminating compensation paid to a personal representative, eliminating court costs associated with determining heirs, eliminating the cost of guardianship proceedings, and eliminating the cost of the court auctioning real estate or other assets.

In sum, if you want more control over what happens to your property after you die, and you want to reduce the costs of administering your estate for your loved ones, then, yes, you need a will. Give The Edwards Law Firm a call today to protect your family and your property.

Contact a Sarasota estate and probate lawyer at The Edwards Law Firm, PL (941) 363-0110.