Does Everyone Need a Will?
Does everyone need a will? The simple answer is yes. This is true even for those who believe they have no assets or savings. These individuals could die in an accident and their estate could litigate and receive a substantial settlement. Without a will, who would get the money?
There are almost always assets that upon ones death need to be distributed, rent deposits, checking accounts, medical reimbursements and random financial assets that always turn up. These checks will be made out to the deceased. How will the heirs get them cashed?
Without the will the heirs will have to go to court to ask the judge to appoint an administrator, usually a family member, a surviving wife or child. This process has expenses attached to it and it can lead to family fights over who should be in charge.
Couples try to go will-free by putting everything in joint names. joint assets pass to the other owner automatically. This includes assets with beneficiary forms, such as individual retirement accounts. Assets are often left out, such as a car or boat. The heirs would have to go to court to get an administrator to transfer title. this strategy might work for the two of them, but what happens once one dies. the remaining spouse has to now get a will prepared, something that could and should have been done together.
Laws differ by state and in some cases a survi ving spousemight receive the entire estate, in other states only a third, while the children get the rest. If you have no children half might go to your spouse and half to your parents, is this what you intended? Is this good planning?
You will be advised by a lawyer to have a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy, so someone you trust can manage your finances and make medical decisions if you are unable to do so yourself.
The will and documents like a health care proxy express your specific desires and can save a family fighting with regard to finances and medical decisions.
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