Many people automatically associate the word "estate" when it comes to dealing with someone passing away with people who have an actual, well, estate. This misconception is widespread and could cause chaos after a loved one's death. Everyone has an estate, though it might not be as grand as you envision. Every single thing you own and every single debt you owe makes up your estate, and not making plans to take care of those issues is a huge mistake, no matter how much you have. Read on to learn about the 5 convincing reasons for writing a will and ensuring that your affairs are taken care of after you have passed on.
1. Children: Wills do more than just address financial issues. If you have children under the age of 18, a will can serve as a vehicle to care for them after you're gone. You can use a will to appoint a guardian, someone you trust and who you know already loves and cares for your child. If you should pass away unexpectedly without naming a guardian, you must leave that important decision up to the state. Making a will and including this provision is particularly important if you are unmarried and want to ensure that your partner be granted guardianship.
2. Property: While you may wonder if you have enough property to address in a will, you may feel differently after doing a quick inventory of your assets. Dying without a will means that strangers will decide who gets your family photos, pets or vehicles, since the state will step in and distribute your property. Making a will ensures that you decide how your property is distributed. Additionally, a will allows you to leave your assets to favorite charities.
3. Family: Anyone who's experienced the stress and confusion of the unexpected (or even expected) death of a loved one knows all about how difficult that time can be. Just knowing that a will exists to handle the distribution of your estate and to deal with your debts can help ease some of the burden on your family. Without a will, relatives may begin to bicker and argue about your possessions. Additionally, a provision in your will to address your final needs will prove comforting to those left to manage your funeral arrangements. Without a will, access to funds needed to pay for the funeral and burial could be frozen, causing undue hardship on your mourning loved ones. You may also include your specific instructions for any burial wishes in the will.
4. Personal representative: You will want to have say in who gets this important appointment. Also known as the executor, this person should be trustworthy, responsible, and well organized. This duty should only go to those who have the time to dedicate, since some of the duties can be time-consuming. It is possible to nominate more than one person to work together on this task or to name a back-up personal representative if necessary.
5. Family that isn't family. When it comes to estate laws, blood relatives, legally adopted children, and legally married spouses are all in line to inherit an estate for those who die without leaving specific provisions. If you have people in your life that you consider family, a will is about the only option available to ensure that they are cared for after your death.