A recent article in Forbes, “Do You Really Need A Will?” explores the thinking of a small group of advisers who are questioning whether or not a person with a very simple life needs a will. We don’t know anyone who has such a simple life. If you have a spouse, children or stepchildren, you need a will. You may not need as complex an estate plan as someone like Prince, but you still need a will. Here’s why.
If you have minor children, you need a will to designate guardians for them. Also, a will or a trust will let you name someone to watch over assets for a disabled or elderly family member or a relative who may not be good with handling money.
Whether you have prized possessions or you want to bequeath some of your estate to the local animal rescue, a will is essential.
The state in which you live can make a big difference. In community property states, your surviving spouse will only inherit all your community property if all your children are also the children of that spouse. Otherwise, your one-half interest in your community estate will pass to your children. If there is any kind of animosity or resentment, they could make your spouse sell the house and send him or her packing because the kids own half the house.
Without a will, a pet can wind up in a shelter after you die if no one takes responsibility for it. A will can name a responsible person and make for a smoother transition for the animal.
There are also some wrinkles that you may not have even considered. If you predecease your parents and they inherit your estate or receive a large payout from a life insurance policy, you may have put them in a position where they lose government benefits. You need an estate plan to protect everyone in your life—whether children, pets or parents.
Reference: Forbes (August 31, 2016) “Do You Really Need A Will?”