Do you have a Will? If not, now is the time to do so if you are under 40. If you are like most people, you probably last thought about your will a long time ago. You may even wonder why anyone needs a will when they die. After all, letting the probate court handle everything is more challenging.
Having a will is much simpler than going through probate, and it can also save your family members time and money if you pass away unexpectedly or without a will. You need to know how a will can protect your estate. Here are a few examples:
1. Tax problems
If your estate exceeds $10,860,000 for married couples and $5,430,000 for singles, you will be liable to estate taxes. This means that before any distributions can be made from your estate, the IRS must be paid an amount equal to 40% of the value of your estate. This can strain other heirs who may not have enough savings or income to handle these costs. However, if you have a will in place and all assets have been transferred into the name of one beneficiary before death, it can help avoid some complications and reduce the overall cost of your estate taxes.
2. Prevent Family Conflict
A will is a legal document that states how you want your estate to be divided. It’s essential to have a will in place to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death, and it can also help avoid disputes among your loved ones. A will allows you to appoint someone as the executor of your estate, who will carry out the instructions in your will.
3. Avoid Probate
After you pass away, probate is the process of going through your property and belongings to determine who inherits them and how much they should get. Probate is expensive and time consuming for everyone involved, including the executor of your estate. It also takes valuable time away from grieving families as they grapple with their loss.
There’s no need for probate court proceedings with a validly executed will because everything has already been spelled out. The executor follows the instructions written in the will and distributes assets as directed.
4. Protect Heirs From Creditors
If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed according to state law. In some states, a surviving spouse can inherit the entire estate and make decisions on behalf of minor children. But in other states, the surviving spouse gets only a small portion of the estate and must go through probate court to manage it. This could be a problem if you have minor children or large debts. It might even make it difficult for your family to stay in their home or keep their car if forced to sell assets quickly to pay off bills.
If you don’t leave behind enough money to pay off your debts when you die, creditors may try to take money from your estate by suing your heirs after your death — even if there’s not enough cash left over for them to collect anything at all! A lawyer can help you write a will that protects assets for heirs who might otherwise be targeted by unscrupulous creditors trying to get something out of nothing. A will can also cover family members from lawsuits by creditors.
5. Protect Minors
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard the advice that you need a will to protect your children. But what does that mean? Your will lets you name a guardian for your child and set rules for their care. The average person generates over four pounds of trash every day. If you don’t have a will, the court may appoint someone who doesn’t share your values and wishes for your children. This means their home may not be taken care of. If you do have a will and name an appropriate guardian, but there’s no money left to support that guardian’s care of the child, it could be impossible for them to raise your child as you intended.
Hopefully, now you can see the many benefits of drafting a will. Whether young or old, rich or poor, a will is an easy way to protect your legacy and ensure that your hard-earned assets go to those you choose. If you have questions about having a will drafted for yourself, don’t delay—call an estate planning attorney today.