I found out that my dad is having major surgery in a couple weeks, so I had to ask…”Did he have a will, and would he like his son, who works with wills everyday, to make sure it follows his testamentary intent and is tax efficient?” Well, I was shocked when he told me, he didn’t have a will! Can anyone say the shoemaker’s son?
Before we get started, I have talked about a Will in the past, but lets go over some basics. A will is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as,
An instrument, executed with the formalities of states statutes, by which a person makes a disposition of his real and personal property, to take effect after his death, and which by its own nature is ambulatory and revocable during his lifetime.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1102 (6th Ed. 1991).
It is your last chance to tell everyone (including the Court) what you want to happen to all your stuff. So I wanted to give 10 reasons why you, the reader, should get a will. While some may not apply to your personal situation, I CAN GUARANTEE that at least one will so go get a will!
- The most important reason, if you don’t tell people what you want then your assets will pass via intestacy. Intestacy is a fancy word which just means you died without a will so your assets will be distributed pursuant to your state’s legislation. Hate your brother? DOESN”T MATTER! He may get a piece of your assets….Hate one of your kids??? DOESN”T MATTER!
- This is your last chance to choose who will take care of your children. If you die without naming a guardian, guess who will decide? A JUDGE with the help of an overworked social worker. Want to make this situation worse? Have 3 family members arguing who can do it better.
- Have a charitable intent? Well no one will know if you don’t have a will indicating that you’d like to make one last gift to your fav. charity, church, etc.
- Want to see business burn and fail – then let the sole owner, die without instructions as what to do!
- Have a child with special needs – then you MUST to prepare for that child. This may seem like the same as the guardian issue, but it isn’t. If your child is on some sort of federal gov’t benefits program and he or she inherets money….guess what happens to their services? CUT OFF
- You want to protect your hard earned assets from your childrens’ creditors. Most states have what is commonly referred to as a Spendthrift Statute. It simply means that those assets held in a trust won’t be subject to the beneficiary’s creditors.
- You want to protect your hard earned assets from your child’s subsequent divorce. Most states won’t include trust principals as part of marital property for purposes of asset division.
- If you have to pay debts, including estate expenses, how should they be paid? Some states force each recepient to pay a portion, some say it is paid first and then bequests are given out.
- Do you have a sizeable estate? Do you need a tax efficient will to reduce estate taxes? If you don’t know what I am talking about check out my post on federal estate taxes made simple.
- When you get a will made most of the time you get all sorts of ancillary documents with it…including health care proxies and living wills. These documents are VERY important. A health care proxy gives someone the power to make your health care decisions. A living will gives instructions as to your health care decisions.
There you have it…GO GET A WILL.