Many people mistakenly believe that by creating a will their loved ones will be able to avoid probate. Although having a will does not mean that the probate process can be avoided, there are nonetheless, other important advantages to having a will. There are numerous reasons that having a will is not only recommended for virtually everyone, but essential for everyone. Here are my top reasons that everyone needs a will:
(1) There is a greater chance that the people you want to give your property to will actually receive it. When a person dies without a will, the state or jurisdiction where he or she lived determines who will receive their assets. The results when these determinations are made by a state are not necessarily intuitive. For example, in the District of Columbia, if a person dies with a spouse and but no children, both the spouse and parents of the deceased person stand in line to inherit. Thus, creating a will can help protect a spouse, children, or other relative whom you want to receive your property.
(2) To appoint a guardian for minor or disabled children. When creating a will provides the opportunity to appoint a guardian for a minor or disabled child who may be unable to financially provide for him or herself or may never be able to live independently. Appointing a guarding in a will for minor child or children can provide some sense of security to know that your child/children will be cared for by the people you believe would best care for them in your absence.
(3) To appoint a conservator of a child’s inheritance. When a person dies without a will (intestate) and leaves minor children, a conservator must be appointed to manage the minor child’s finances. By creating a will, you can appoint the conservator. You can also provide instructions for the purposes of the money, and how it should be spent.
(4) To appoint a person to handle your assets after you die (personal representative). You can appoint the personal representative of your estate. A personal representative is the person who collects and protects the estate’s assets, initiates the probate process, and ultimately distributes the estate’s assets. You should choose a person whom you trust.
(5) To ease the burden on family members. Dealing with the death of a loved one is an extremely difficult time. Having a well drafted will can minimize their burden.