August is national Make-A-Will month, but why is it important to make a will, and why should I have one?
During the course of your life, you likely worked hard to support yourself and possibly a family, and may have purchased a home, property, and perhaps some toys like a camper, boat and the like. You may have also invested some of your money in a business or stocks and bonds. And when you die, you have the right to divide up the wealth you have amassed however you see fit.
To avoid potential tax burdens and to prevent the government from taking control of your assets, it is crucial to have a will established, stating with who receives what upon your death. Failure to have a valid will can lead to your assets going into intestate, where a probate court will divvy up your assets to surviving relatives based on legal defaults. Furthermore, state intestacy laws do not recognize friends and charities, so your assets may not be distributed as you intended without a valid will.
When constructing your will, you will specifically outline who receives what property. You will also establish who is your representative, or executor. The executor will be made aware of your wishes and will make certain, upon your death, that the assets are appropriately distributed, according to your wishes.
And if you have minor or dependent children, your will not only determines how your assets are distributed, but may also name a guardian to your children.
Studies suggest that up to 70 percent of U.S. residents do not have a will. The minimal time and effort you take to create a valid will today can help save descendants from headaches down the road.
Source: findlaw.com, "Wills: An Overview," Accessed on August 17, 2015