A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that sets forth your wishes as to who gets your property, who will be the guardian of your minor children, and who will manage your estate. A will is limited to your “probate assets” and has no control over jointly held assets or those with a beneficiary designation. If you die without a will, those wishes may not be carried out. Further, your heirs may end up spending additional time, money, and emotional energy to settle your affairs after you're gone.
WHY should you have a will?
Some people think that only the very wealthy or those with complicated assets need wills. However, there are many good reasons to have a will.
- You can be clear about who gets your assets. You can decide who gets what and how much.
- You can keep your assets out of the hands of people you don't want to have them (like an estranged relative).
- You can identify who should care for your children. Without a will, the courts will decide.
- Your heirs will have a faster and easier time getting access to your assets.
- You can plan to save your estate money on taxes. You can also give gifts and charitable donations, which can help offset the estate tax.