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WillYou May Not Think You Need a Will, But You Really Do.

Most Americans do not have an estate plan, and many that do have one, do not have a will.  You may think that you do not have enough net worth for a will to make sense, you do not need one because you have a trust, filled out beneficiary designation forms for your retirement accounts and life insurance, or other reasons.

  • So, do you actually need a will?  In short, yes, you do.  Not only you, but everyone who owns anything need a will.  A will expresses your desires of how you want your property distributed after you do.  If you do not have a will, you have no control over that and state law governs where your property goes.  Even if you have a trust, beneficiary designations, or jointly owned property, you want a will even as a back-up.
  • Even separate from controlling your property, a will allows you to name a guardian for minor children.
  • If you have a lot of assets that use beneficiary designations, such a life insurance policies or retirement accounts, those designations only controls those assets.  You need a will to control your other property, such as a car, home, jewelry, etc.  A will is just as necessary if you want to give any assets to a charitable organization.
  • If you do not have a will, you die intestate.  This means that the state governs where your property goes.  The process of determining where your property goes can be more costly and time-consuming if you do not have a will.
  • A will also gives you more flexibility if you have a complex family situation, such as a blended family, cohabitation, step-children, disinheritance, and other issues.  Relying on state laws may mean that your property is distributed unevenly or unfairly.
  • You can also use the will to discourage fights over your property through using a no-contest clause.
  • A will’s first purpose is to give you control over passing your wealth to your loved ones after you die.  This passing on of your property happens through a process called probate.  This is intended to give you control over your property after you die.  You should not leave this to chance, but creating a will gives you more ownership over your property.