There’s a common misconception that estate planning is strictly for the rich and famous. However, when someone dies intestate, or without a legal will, their estate will enter probate, a court proceeding that determines the rightful heirs to the estate and how it should be distributed.
But wills are about more than distributing your wealth and assets. Regardless of how much or how little money you have, a will legally enforces your final wishes and end-of-life plans. If you have minor children, a will also allows you to choose their legal guardian if you pass on before they are of legal age.
Without a valid will, the court makes all the critical decisions on your behalf – which may not align with how you want your affairs handled after you’re gone. Unfortunately, this can also inadvertently subject your family and loved ones to contention and strife battling for what they believe they deserve.
When you need a will
Today, as many as two-thirds of American adults don’t have a will in place. At the very least, you should have a will that clearly specifies how you want your property distributed, who will look after your minor children if you pass away, and who will serve as executor to fulfill your last wishes. If you care about any of the following after you’re gone, you will likely need to create a will:
- You care who will receive your property when you die.
- You care where or who your money will go to when you die.
- You care who will look after your minor children after you die.
- You care about who will care for your pets after you die.
You can never go wrong with having a valid will in place. After all, every person has belongings they can’t take with them once they’re gone. Having a will can ensure your legacy and loved ones are safe from the probate process.