Introduction: What is a Will?
A will is a legal document, which outlines your final wishes and instructions. A will can cover multiple areas, including care of minors, the division of assets and what you want to happen at your funeral. If you die and you don’t have a will, there is a risk that your wishes won’t be fulfilled.
Studies suggest that Americans have become more aware of the importance of wills and life planning since the pandemic. However, only 33% of US adults have an estate plan. Of the 67% of people who don’t have a will, 40% admitted they had never got around to making a will and 33% said they didn’t have valuable assets to pass on (source).
What does a Will include?
A will is essentially an instruction sheet, which lays out how you wish your assets to be divided. If you have money in the bank, you own a house or a property portfolio, or you have valuable possessions, you can specify who you want your assets and belongings to be given to when you die.
If you have children who are minors, you can also use your will to state who you wish to be their guardian or guardians. You can also leave instructions for pet care.
You can also use your will to leave money to charity or other organizations and issue instructions related to your funeral arrangements.
Why do I need a Will?
There are several reasons to have a will, including:
- Ensure that your last wishes are respected
- Pass assets and belongings on to loved ones
- Eliminate stress and upheaval for your family
- Protect minors by choosing a guardian
- Protect a surviving partner or other family members by specifying how you want your assets to be divided
- Avoid the state making decisions on your behalf
- Speed up the passing of assets to children, your partner or friends and family members
- Take advantage of efficient estate planning to reduce tax liabilities
How to make a Will
The best way to make a will is to seek legal advice and have estate planner draw up your will. This is beneficial because it ensures that your will covers everything that is important to you and that it complies with state laws and regulations. You can create your own will, but it’s often best to seek professional advice to simplify the process and make sure that will is properly worded and legally binding.
What happens if you die without a Will?
Dying without a will is known as dying intestate. If you don’t have a will when you die, the state will take charge of distributing your assets. Statistics suggest that up to 50% of Americans die without a will (source).
A will is a legal directive, which outlines your wishes. If you make a will, you can decide how your assets and possessions are distributed and name a guardian if you have young children. It’s important to make sure that you have a will. If you don’t have a will yet, seek legal advice.
Family.Estate can match you with a qualified estate planner in your area to take the stress out of planning your will.
Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and information may vary between states. Information found on this website is general in nature. Please consult with an estate planner for personal support.