Planning for what will happen when you die can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved ones will be cared for and your property will be distributed according to your wishes. Because laws relating to estate planning vary from state to state, you should consider consulting with a lawyer licensed in your state about setting up plans that will work best for you.
You might think you don’t need a will because “I don’t have anything to give anybody after I die. What’s the point?” Even if you have few assets, you should have a will, which will make it easier for those you leave behind to settle your estate. In this case, you’re not getting a will for you; you’re getting it for them. Without a will, what you do own will be “intestate,” and your family members will have to then work with the state, making a difficult time even more painful. With a will, you avoid this and possibly probate, too.
A will is a legal document that provides for the distribution of your assets when you die. If you have children, a will also lets you name a guardian who will take care of them and their needs if you die while they are still minors. If you don’t make a will, the laws of your state determine how your estate gets distributed to your spouse, children, or other surviving relatives. If you have no living relatives, your property will go to the state. If you have minor children and pass away without a will, a court will decide who will take care of them.
So, this is serious stuff! If you have few assets, you can get a basic will at LegalZoom (www.legalzoom.com) for $89. That’s better than no will at all. Because the laws governing wills vary among the states, it’s a good idea to consult with an estate planning attorney to make sure that any will you make is valid. Don’t have an attorney? Visit www.findhelp.com, type in your zip code, and search for attorneys that will help you at no or reduced cost.
Now you have no reason for not having a will. If you have a will, but haven’t looked at it in years, please dust it off and update it. Life changes and so should your will. It should reflect what you have today and where you want it to go at some point in the future. Having a will, and keeping it updated, is peace of mind.