Friday, November 20, 2009
Who should consider a will?
In a word — everyone. Regardless of age, regardless of wealth — we all should consider preparing a will. It could help you to control who receives your property, who will be the guardian of your children and who will manage your estate upon your death.
Wills are typically simple to create and we all have good intentions, but many die without a will — I see it happen all too often. People who die intestate — without a will — default to the one-size-fits-all will provided by the state. Our state's distribution formula may not be appropriate for your family's situation, but your survivors will have no choice in the matter. You can avoid that and protect your loved ones with an appropriate will — then your property will be distributed according to your wishes.
A guardian for your minor children
In many states, when you die, your will is the only means of stating who you want to act as legal guardian for your minor children. The court has final approval, but courts usually will approve your choice of guardian unless there are compelling reasons not to. The greatest peace of mind that parents of minor children can have is to know for sure who will care for their children if something happens to them.
If you don't have a will, consider preparing one sooner rather than later. (I suggest that you consult an attorney to discuss your individual circumstances and options.) And, if you have a will, update it every time there is a major change in your life — such as the birth of a child, adoption, marriage or divorce — or changes in the lives of those mentioned in your will. Make sure that your hard-earned assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes. And make sure you know who will take care of your minor children if you can't. Share this with a friend or loved one so they, too, can understand the importance of being prepared. Please contact your attorney, accountant or tax advisor for legal or tax questions.