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.