Few people like to think about what will happen after they die. Although inevitable, death is not a pleasant thought for many. That's likely why only 36 percent of Americans have taken the time to write a last will and testament. This is the legal document that instructs the courts how to distribute your assets after you die. Without a will, the probate court officials are left to rely on family ties and closest relations. However, dividing your assets the way you'd prefer is just one of several good reasons to take the time and effort to have a will prepared.
Why you should have a will
1. To ensure the people you choose get your assets. If you have specific requests about who gets your house, your possessions and your money, you need to have a will. Otherwise, your money is likely to go to your nearest relation, even if that's your estranged daughter or the wife you've been separated from for decades. In addition, if you want money to go to organizations like your church or your alma mater, that needs to be spelled out in a will.
2. To provide custody for your kids. One of the most important aspects of a will is that it designates the people you want to raise your children if you die before they are 18 years of age. Without a will, custody will likely be awarded to their closest relative.
3. To take care of your pets. Pets, too, need to be taken care of after you die. You can also specify in your will the people who you want to take care of your cat, dog, horse or other pet.
4. To save your heirs money. There are a number of costs associated with probate court. Among these is the cost of an executor, someone to oversee the inventory and distribution of the items in your estate. This person is paid for his or her efforts out of the value of your estate. When you have a will, you can name a family member as your executor and save the executor's fee (or at least keep it all in the family.)
While no one likes to think of dying, knowing that your property, your children and your pets will be taken care of as you'd wish can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the future is taken care of no matter what happens. Contact a family attorney, like Davis and Mathis, to get started.