You have likely heard and read about the benefits of having a Last Will and Testament in place sooner rather than later. Having a will is easily one of the more important decisions you will ever make for both you and your loved ones. Yet, so many people continue to delay the conversation or underestimate its importance. Some even ask, “What happens if I don’t have a will? Is it really as bad as everyone makes it out to be?”
While it’s understandable that most people don’t want to think about their own death, everyone deserves a say in what happens next. This is what a will provides — control over how your final wishes are carried out.
Dying without a will leaves those decisions in the hands of someone else.
A quick recap — what is a will?
A will is a legal document that spells out all of your final wishes, and it is typically seen as the first step in an estate planning strategy.
By leaving behind a specific list of instructions for your loved ones, you can specify:
- How your assets should be distributed
- Who gets what and how much
- Details for final arrangements
- Who should care for your minor children and pets
- Who is in charge (executor) of making sure all of this happens
You can and should include as many details as possible in your estate plan.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
The legal term for dying without a will is called dying intestate. Because there is no documentation in place — from you — to tell a judge or the state how to proceed, key decisions will be made for you by people who aren’t family members and don’t know what is important to you.
For example, perhaps it’s a priceless family heirloom that you’d like your daughter to have …
It could also be a vehicle that you want donated to a specific charity …
There could also be a sizable amount of money your grandchildren should receive on their 18th birthday.
Instead of these wishes being carried out as you intended, the court will simply defer to state law to determine how everything is distributed. The result of this can be especially unexpected for blended families. Most people are surprised to find that many of the Decedent’s assets don’t necessarily pass to the surviving spouse, a result that might not have been expected or intended.
With that said, the laws of intestate succession vary from state to state and depend on a variety of factors. This includes whether you were single or married, had children or no children, and how many additional family members are still living (parents, siblings, etc.). An important step in taking control of your family’s future and ensuring that your loved ones are protected is to have a will.
A will is one of the more important decisions you will ever make for both you and your loved ones.
The attorneys at Christman Ramsey & Foster, PC, have valuable experience in preparing wills for families and individuals alike. And depending upon your needs and circumstances, proper estate planning could involve much more than writing a will.
We help you put together an estate plan that goes beyond the last will and testament with a revocable trust, living will, health care directives, powers of attorney, or other documents. Our attorneys will help you to create legal instruments to distribute your assets according to your wishes. Including nominating a guardian for minor children, minimizing family disputes, avoiding probate and estate administration, and planning for incapacity.
Please call Christman, Ramsey & Foster, PC, for your legal needs today!
Please consult an attorney for advice about your situation. The material on this website and in this or any blog article we publish are for informational purposes only. This does not constitute legal advice. The attorneys at Christman, Ramsey & Foster, PC believe in tailoring legal advice and solutions to your circumstances.
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