Writing a will is amongst the most important things you can do for your family and yourself. Wills provide legal protection to assets, children, partners and other loved ones. They also spell out how a person wants things to be handled after they pass on. Therefore, it is not just nice to have a will; it is vital if you want some control over what happens to your property, possessions and in some cases, your family after you have died.
Whilst thinking about what will happen to our families if we die is not something any of us want to dwell on for too long, it is far better to approach these subjects now while you have the chance to make preparations and organise your affairs in the way that you want. You do not want to leave these important decisions to chance and the decisions of the court. For instance, you may want specific funeral arrangements made, a particular write-up in Chicago Tribune obituaries or similar, as well as precious items you want to gift to certain family members.
Here are 10 good reasons why you need to make a will:
1. Estate Distribution
Writing a will enables you to decide how your loved ones will share your estate after your death. Wills are legally binding documents which allow their writers to decide how who should inherit from them and how their assets should be allocated. Therefore, leaving behind a legally binding will enables you to ensure that your estate goes to those you choose. Dying without making a will leaves these decisions in the hands of the courts, who may not give your inheritance to those you would have chosen. There are strict rules on who can inherit when there has been no will written, and these rules exclude partners who were not married to the deceased and step children, amongst others. If your family rely on you, then ensure you make a will straight away so that in the event of the worst happening, they wouldn’t be left dealing with a financial crisis alongside their grief too.
2. Children’s Wellbeing
You want to ensure the wellbeing of your children even after your death. A will enables you to decide who will be responsible for the upbringing of your children if they have no surviving parent with legal responsibility. Writing a will enables you to decide under whose care your minor children will be if you die. If you die without a will, the court will choose a family member to take care of them, but this may not be the best person in your view. Alternatively, your children can be put under a state-appointed guardian by the court. To avoid this, write a will stating clearly who you want to take care of our children if you should die before they reach the age of 18. You can even state who you definitely don’t want to take care of your children.
3. To Avoid Probate
Probate is a costly and long process when there is no will. Every estate has to go through the probate process. However, leaving behind a legally binding will can speed up this process considerably. That’s because this document tells the court how you want your estate to be divided. If you don’t leave behind a legally binding will, the probate court will be responsible for the administration of your estate. Thus, the probate court will determine how your estate will be divided without considering your input. This can lead to long delays and high expenses, and outcomes you may not have wished for.
4. To Choose Executors
Writing a will gives you a chance to choose who to wind up your estate affairs. An executor ensures that your affairs are handled in an orderly manner. This includes cancellation of credit cards, payment of bills, as well as notifying business establishments and banks. When it comes to estate administration, executors play a crucial role. It’s therefore important that you appoint a trustworthy, honest and organised person as your executor. Note that it’s not a must that you choose a family member as your executor.
5. To Avoid Estate Taxes
Writing a will before your death enables you to minimise estate taxes. Essentially, what you give to loved ones and charity has value. This value will reduce your estate’s value thereby lowering the inheritance tax your loved ones will be asked to pay otherwise.
6. To Disinherit Some People
Perhaps there are people who stand to benefit by inheriting your estate but you don’t want to leave them anything upon your death. If you don’t leave behind a legally binding will, those people could inherit your assets automatically, as per the rules of intestacy. Wills outline how the estate of the deceased person should be distributed. So, to ensure that your estate won’t end up being inherited by the wrong people, write a will. For instance, you can clearly state that you don’t want your former spouse to inherit your estate which is particularly important if your divorce has not yet been finalised and he or she would stand to inherit under the rules of intestacy in the absence of a will.
7. To Avoid Unnecessary Legal Challenges
If you don’t leave behind a legally binding will legal, challenges can emerge upon your death. This is unfortunately not an uncommon situation, and it can not only cause huge distress to the affected parties and delay probate by up to many years, it can ultimately lead to a situation where your estate ends up being inherited by the wrong people. A will makes such scenarios far less likely.
8. Make Donations and Gifts
A will enables you to make donations and gifts as a way of leaving a legacy. Making donations and gifts is a reflection of your personal interests and values. What’s more, gifts of a certain value may be excluded from estate tax. This means you increase your estate value for your beneficiaries and heirs to enjoy.
9. It Allows Your Wishes To Change as Life Situations Change
Some people are under the impression that once a will is made it cannot be changed. This is not the case. A will can be revised, rewritten or withdrawn at any time. If you have a will, you are advised with schedule in regular updates so that any changes in situation or wishes can be reflected in your will. Whenever there is a major life event such as a divorce, birth, or death of one of those parties named in your will, you should immediately update your will accordingly. create a situation that compels you to change mind, you can update your will to reflect these
10. Tomorrow is Not Guaranteed
In most cases, people put off writing wills because they do not wish to think about a time after they are gone. However, not writing a will does not change the likelihood of death occurring at some point; it simply means you are prepared for it in the best way possible, and your family and other loved ones will be well looked after in your absence. Making a will brings the peace of mind of knowing that your affairs are in order should anything happen to you.