A will is important because if you do not designate who will inherit your property, a state statute will. The statutory distribution scheme (known as “intestate distribution”) will often provide for results differing from your wishes. If you have property in several states, the rules in each state may be different concerning who will be entitled to your properties.
Typically, intestate law divides the decedent's estate between the surviving spouse and living children; however, many people are surprised by the actual division made by state law. Even if the decedent does not have children, the spouse may not inherit the entire estate.
Perhaps most importantly for those of you with minor children, a will gives you the opportunity to designate a guardian for your children if your spouse does not survive you. You have better understanding than a court as to who of your relatives or friends will best be able to care for your children, both emotionally and financially. Your will can put this designation in place, identifying the best person for each type of function.
Moreover, because your children are minors, the court will require a fiduciary (e.g., a guardian or trustee) to be appointed to receive and manage that property the children inherit. This can be a cumbersome and expensive process, requiring court supervision throughout the time the children are minors.
A will can also simplify the probate process for your survivors. For example, you can designate a personal representative (also known as an executor) to handle the transfer of properties in your estate. You can direct how taxes and debts should be paid. You can waive state limitations on funeral expenses payable from your estate and enable your estate to take maximum advantage of estate tax savings.
We do hope that this explanation is a sufficient beginning to enable you to understand the practical necessity of having a Last Will.
Please contact one of our Wealth Advocates at Wade Financial Group to arrange an appointment to discuss this matter in more detail.