Regardless of your age, wealth or health, you may be surprised to learn that there are many good reasons nearly everyone should have a will.
What is a Last Will & Testament?
A last will & testament, or will, for short, is a legal document that allows a person to specify his or her final wishes pertaining to their assets (such as money, investments, real estate and tangible personal property) and dependent children.
Reasons for having a will
As far as assets and possessions are concerned, a will allows you to distribute them to specific individuals, groups or non-profit organizations. Without a will, you will have no way of directing what happens to your property when you die; instead, it will be distributed according to the probate laws in your state. If you want your assets to go to specific family members, in certain proportions, or you would like to leave any gifts to friends or non-profit organizations, you need to create and execute a will.
In addition, if you have any dependent children, a will allows you to nominate the person or people you would like to serve as guardians for your minor children. If you die and have not named guardians for your children, a court will decide who should have custody. Since the court does not know you, your children or your family, its decision may not be what you would have wanted.
What if I don’t have many assets or possessions?
Even if you do not own a home or have many possessions, you likely still have common assets such as bank accounts, stocks or mutual funds, a retirement account, and other physical possessions that are important to you. You may also own pets, which are treated as property. Creating a will now also allows you to account for property you accumulate in the future.
Last Updated: April 6, 2020