Many people believe it’s not necessary to make a will while they’re young, before they have children, or if they’re not married. There might be some truth to this but you should forego making a will only if you’re completely familiar with your state’s intestate succession laws. Those are the laws that take effect if you die without a will.
If you die intestate—without a will—the laws of your state determine who gets your property. If you have a child, the absence of a will can lead to serious consequences because you haven’t properly chosen a legal guardian for your child. That means a court will have to choose one. Also, if you die intestate, some relatives you didn’t speak with may end up being beneficiaries of your property. The bottom line is even if you are young, single, and have no children, it’s beneficial for you to have a will.
Reasons to Make a Will
The most important reason to make a will is to make sure your wishes are carried out after you die. It’s important to have a will even if you have a small estate. An estate is the property you own and what you owe. A will tells the probate court what you want to do with your property and who you want to receive it. Without a will, your property could end up going to various heirs you didn’t suspect would get it.
Each state has different laws concerning what happens if you die intestate or without a will. In many cases, if you have a spouse, either the spouse will inherit most of your estate or all of it, depending on your state. If you have children, state law determines whether they inherit property. In some states, they will get a share of your property along with your spouse. In other states, they will not. Stepchildren generally do not inherit under state laws unless they are named in the will. The same applies to domestic partners—unless named in a will, they usually do not inherit anything.
It is possible in some states that if you have no children, your parents could inherit from you, and it’s also possible for siblings to inherit property if there are no surviving parents. This could include half-brothers and half-sisters. If there are no surviving family members, it’s possible for the state to take the entire estate. If this is not what you want, see an estate planning attorney to draw up a will for you. It doesn’t cost as much as you think and you can shop around.
If you have children, it is essential to have a will so you can appoint a guardian for your children. If you don’t appoint a guardian, the court will appoint one for you and it may not be someone you want.
If you don’t have children and have only a few possessions, you may not need a will if you understand the laws of intestate succession in your state.
What Can a Will Do?
A will is a document which shows how you want your wishes carried out after you are deceased. It can include:
How do You Make a Will?
Certain things must be present in a valid will. If the will is not valid, it will be as if you died intestate, so it has to be done correctly. A will has different requirements in each state but many of the requirements are the same. Check with an estate planning attorney for the requirements in your state.
Making a Legally Valid Will.
To make a valid will, the will must:
It’s important to make a will to ensure that your property goes to your chosen beneficiaries and to ensure that anyone you want to disinherit is specified. A will is also essential for choosing a guardian and an executor. To make sure your will is valid, see an estate planning attorney who can prepare the will under the laws of your state. You also can have an estate planning attorney review any will you have made online to make sure it complies with your state’s laws.
How Can EstateBee Help You?
Alternatively, you can use EstateBee’s How to Make a Last Will & Testament book or its Legal Will Kit, or better still its Online Will Writing Software – which is state of the art and a market leader in North America.
EstateBee’s will writing software is state specific. So, for example, when you are presented with options for property management for minor beneficiaries, various elements of your state’s laws have been incorporated in to those options – such as whether your state allows UTMA custodianships or not, the age of termination of such custodianships, etc. The same applies for in relation to the execution of your will. In the case of Vermont, for example, where three witnesses are required, the software adds the relevant number of witnesses to your document. And the list goes on…everything is state specific and bespoke to your situation whether you are married, in a registered partnership and whether you have children or not.
If you have any questions about our products or services, please contact our customer service team who would be delighted to assist you.
Diana is a freelance writer that has written extensively in the areas of finance, financial planning and estate planning.