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Why Everyone Should Have a Will

Why do I need a will?It is estimated that 64% of Americans do not have a will. Some of the top reasons people give for not making a will include:

  • I do not have enough money to need a will
  • I just have not gotten around to it
  • I will not need it for a long time
  • I do not want to think about my own mortality

As recent celebrity deaths have shown, life can end unexpectedly in an instant. Without the proper planning, the inevitable can have many unwanted and unintended consequences for those you leave behind.

Should you pass without a will, your survivors have to go through an Administration Proceeding. This proceeding is complicated, lengthy, and costly. During this proceeding, the laws of intestacy dictate who will administer your estate, who receives your assets, and who will care for your dependents through the statutory will provision called “intestate succession.” This provision does not take into account your wishes regarding your assets.

It is imperative to plan ahead. Every adult, regardless of their age, assets, marital status or family situation, should have a proper estate plan in place. Having a will can alleviate many uncertainties for many different categories of people.

A big concern of people who have dependent children usually is: “Who will care for my children if something should happen to me?”

A will allows you to name a guardian to care for your children. A will also allows you to dictate how and when your children receive assets. The statutory default is that your children will receive assets at the age of 18. Many parents are uncomfortable with the thought of their children receiving a lump sum distribution at such an impressionable age. A will can require a trust to designate a trustee to hold the assets and distribute them according to your wishes.

What if I’m single?

Without a will, intestate succession provides that the parents of an unmarried decedent will receive the assets at death. This may not comply with your wishes. Some may have significant people or charities in their life to whom that they would like their assets to pass upon their demise. To ensure your wishes are met, it would behoove you to devise an estate plan that complies with your wishes.

What if I have a child with Special Needs?

Many people with significant mental or physical disabilities receive government benefits such as Social Security and Medicaid. If these individuals receive an inheritance outright upon your passing, they will no longer qualify for these government benefits since they are unable to exceed a certain asset threshold while receiving these benefits. By planning in advance, a supplemental needs trust can be created to distribute the assets without negative repercussions.

A will should be created as a part of a comprehensive estate plan. Other documents, such as a durable power of attorney, healthcare proxy, and living will are important documents to have in place. A will becomes effective at death, but the other documents listed are enforced should you become incapacitated.

For more information on how a will can protect your loved ones or about other estate planning documents, contact Vincent J. Russo & Associates, P.C. today!

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