Does Everyone Need a Will?

Retirement

Does Everyone Need a Will?

Posted by Infinite Wealth Advisors, LLC
4 years ago | August 2, 2015

iStock_000038605478_SmallWe often tend to focus our financial planning around our goals for our own future. But you should also make a plan for your assets and property in the event of your death. You might believe that if something should happen to you, your spouse will automatically receive everything in your estate. This sounds fine to you, so you haven’t bothered to create a will.

You’re not alone. Fifty-eight percent of Americans don’t have a will! But unfortunately, most people are operating under the erroneous ideas about how the legal process works after death.

If you die intestate, meaning without a will, the state will decide upon heirs for your property. All states have created laws of succession to determine the division of your assets, but these rules can vary depending upon where you live. If you haven’t researched these laws yet, you might be surprised at how the courts divide property. You might even be familiar with the laws of succession in your own state, but later move and fail to research the laws of your new state.

In some states, the surviving spouse of a deceased person does indeed inherit the entire estate. However, in other states, the property is divided between the spouse and children. In this case, your spouse will be responsible for the burden of maintaining separate financial accounts for each child if you die before they are grown. If your children are adults, they can manage their own money, but you might prefer that your spouse receives the entire estate.

Succession laws become even more murky for those who don’t have a spouse, children, or immediate surviving relatives. In these cases, the state must track down your “next of kin”. For some people, this could mean that their money is transferred to a person they barely know! If you would rather leave your money to a close friend, romantic partner, or even a charity, you must specific your wishes within a legal will.

If you want to be in charge of dividing your assets, rather than leaving these important decisions up to the courts, then you should set forth your final wishes in writing. Meet with an estate planning attorney, and discuss all of your options to ensure that your assets are divided appropriately.

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