An Easy Guide to Wills

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Reasons to have a will

Having a will in place can help reduce family disagreements and stress. By identifying who should receive certain assets and how assets should be distributed, you can relieve some of the stress your family will have to face when they settle your estate since your heirs will not have to make these difficult decisions on their own.

 

Wills are especially important if you have young children. If you die without a will, the courts will decide who becomes the guardian for your children, usually a family member. By creating a will, you can specify who you would like to raise and care for your children if you should die.

 

How a will works

If you have a will when you die, the person you named as your  executor must present the will to a probate court and initiate a probate proceeding. (Probate is a process in which a court verifies the legality of the will and confirms the executor for the estate.)

 

The will doesn’t go into effect until after probate proceedings, which can take anywhere from three months to three years, depending on your state’s laws and the complexity of your estate. This means that property cannot be distributed, assets cannot be sold, and debts cannot be paid until after the court has granted its approval. Once the court has validated the will, the executor can begin to settle the estate and distribute assets to the beneficiaries named.

 

Dying without a will

If you die without a proper will, your property will typically be divided by the court according to succession laws — essentially, the closest surviving relatives get everything, including assets and custody of minor children. Even if you don't have a will, your estate will have to go through the probate process. Dying without a will is known as dying “intestate,” and intestacy laws vary from state to state.

 

For those who haven’t created a will yet, what’s your main reason for putting it off? For those who have, what was your motivation?

 

This article is provided by Everplans — a life and legacy planning company dedicated to transforming the way people get their families organized. For more information, visit: everplans.com

 

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Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment, or legal advice.  Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.

1 Comment
JSaenz

I've been wondering about this and think it's time to really get a will in place for my family. I've seen first hand how messy things can get without one. I've been helping families with personal financial coaching and we actually discuss this as part of a strong financial foundation. I better follow my own advice first before I recommend the same to others!