Almost everyone knows what a Will is: a document that states what will happen to your money (assets) and possessions after you die. Everything you leave behind is known as your estate, and preparing a Will or a Trust is called estate planning. Most people may think of Wills as being for celebrities and the rich and famous. For working class families, it is easy to think of estate planning as only for those with untold riches to pass along.
Less than thirty percent of all American adults have a Will. Yet, every single person should have one, whether they are passing on billions of dollars or just a couple pots and pans. Here are five reasons why you should make a Will:
1. Designate a guardian for your children. The most important part of creating a Will to parents is designating a guardian for their children. It puts the decision of how your children will be raised into your hands. You can even add provisions, such as if something were to happen to your first guardian. If you want a choice in how your child is raised - and we bet that you do - making a Will is the only certain way to do it.
2. Name an executor of your estate. Never mind the foreboding title - an executor just distributes your estate for you. That means that you get to choose not just who gets what, but who gets to handle getting it to everyone. You probably know who in your life could best be suited to this sort of emotionally mature and organized job - and who you would not want to do it. Making a Will puts the choice in your hand.
3. Avoid probate court. Whenever someone dies without a Will, their estate goes into probate court. This is the process by which the state they lived in chooses how their assets and possessions will be divided up. It's not just about who they may choose to give things to. Probate court is a long, expensive, and emotionally traumatic process for many families. It can eat up any remaining assets in legal fees. Don’t put your family through that - make a Will to take care of them.
4. Decide when things happen. Making a Will isn’t just picking how things get divided up, but when. If you would rather your family get a payment plan of your remaining assets instead of just one big drop, you can decide that.
5. Choose who gets your Netflix subscription! It's not only physical assets divided up in a Will! Your digital assets are on the table too. That means all of your subscriptions, all of your family photos on social media, and anything you uploaded to the Cloud. These will be divided up in probate if they aren’t first discussed in a Will.
Wills aren’t just for passing out money, and they aren’t just for the rich and famous. If you want to put your family’s future in your own hands, making a Will is the place to start. To create one, or for any help with estate planning, contact Bashirah Martin, Attorney at Law PLLC today!