It’s a common question asked of estate planning attorneys: “Do I Really Need A Will?” This article in The Sun explains that the answer is “yes.” If you die without a will or “intestate,” the probate laws of the state will determine who will receive the assets in your estate. Of course, that may not be how you wanted things to go. That’s why you need a will.
When you die, your assets (i.e., your “estate”) are distributed to family and loved ones in your estate plan if there is no surviving joint owner or designated beneficiary (e.g., life insurance, annuities, and retirement plans). No matter the complexity, a will is a key component of the plan.
A will allows you make decisions about the distribution of your assets, such as your real estate, personal property, investments, and any businesses. You can make donations to your favorite charities or a religious organization. Your will is also important if you have minor children: it’s where you nominate a guardian to care for them if you die.
Of course, you can write your own will or pay for a program on the Internet, but it’s better to have one prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney. Prior to sitting down with an attorney, make a listing of all your assets (your home, real estate, bank accounts, retirement plans, personal property, and life insurance policies). If you have prized possessions or family heirlooms, be sure to also detail these.
Make a list of all debts, such as your mortgage, auto loans, and credit cards. You should also collect contact information for all immediate living family members, detailing their addresses and birth dates.
When meeting with an attorney, ask about other components of an estate plan, such as a power of attorney and medical directive.
The originals of these documents should be kept in a safe place, where they can be easily accessed by your estate administrator or executor.
You should also review your estate plan every few years and at significant points in your life, like marriage, divorce, the adoption or birth of a child, death of a beneficiary, and divorce.
Do your homework, then visit an experienced estate planning attorney to receive important planning insights from their experience working with estate plans and families.
Reference: The (Jonesboro, AR) Sun (July 15, 2020) “Do I Really Need A Will?”