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  • Writer's pictureDavid DePaoli

Are wills really that important?

The short answer is yes. A will can legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, as well as spell out exactly how you would like things handled after you have passed on. But here are 10 reasons why having a will made is important:

1. You decide how your estate will be distributed. A will is a legally binding document that lets you determine how things will be handled with your estate after your death. Wills help minimize fights amongst family members and can spell out specific instructions and conditions for how your estate is to be divided.

2. You decide who will take care of your minor children.

Without a will, the court will choose among family members or perhaps a state appointed guardian to take care of your children. To ensure your children go to the right people, a will can name who the desired guardians will be in the case of death.

3. Avoid a lengthy probate process.

All estates must go through a probate process upon death of owner. However, a will cuts out the lengthy delays of the court as it spells out specific instructions for how it is to be sold or divided.

4. Minimize estate taxes.

While you may no longer be worried about paying taxes, those who are left to inherit your estate will still have to pay out a portion to the state before receiving any money or property. Having a will in order reduces these taxes and allows more value to be passed on.

5. You decide who handles the affairs of your estate.

Unfortunately when you are no longer here, bills must still be paid and some affairs must be put in order. Executors play the biggest role in administration of your estate so making sure the right person is in charge can save family members the headache.

6. You can choose who gets an inheritance.

While a will outlines how your estate is divided and who receives that benefit, a will can also dictate who specifically does not get an inheritance. Without a will your estate may end up in the wrong hands or the hands of someone you did not intend (such as an ex-spouse).

7. Make gifts and donations.

If you have a specific charity or organization you wish to support even after passing on, a will can appoint a portion or all of your estate value to go directly to them. These gifts can sometimes be excluded from estate tax so the value of your estate for the beneficiaries increases.

8. Avoid future legal challenges.

With the way our legal system works, sometimes we don't realize who stands to inherit from our passing or who will attempt to have access to what is left behind. Rather than leaving family members to deal with lawsuits and legal hassle, a will can curtail some of the challenges.

9. Because wills are flexible as needed.

While you are still alive you can change your will as many times as needed. Life changes happen such as births, deaths, and divorces, so changing your will might be necessary.

10. Because tomorrow is never a guarantee.

Unfortunately we don't have a specific date given to us to have our will prepared by so procrastinating can often leave our loved ones in a tight spot. Wills can be as lengthy and specific as you desire or just a basic structure might do. Either way, getting a will in writing is important for caring for your loved ones even after you are no longer here.

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