Creating a will is one of the most important things a person or couple can do for the future. There should be a plan that outlines how assets will be distributed and, most importantly, who will care for younger children should the unexpected occur. Making these decisions are incredibly personal and unique to the testator, and it’s not uncommon for a person to struggle with how they will make these decisions. Because of this, some may wait to develop their will, saving it for another time. But, as a wills lawyer recommends from Carpenter & Lewis PLLC will share, this can produce disastrous results and leave families grieving and deciphering what the person’s wishes would have been. 

When developing a will or considering whether you need one, it’s only natural to have many questions about the process and the potential consequences should you choose to go without one. 

What is included within a will?

A will is a legal document that dictates how a person’s affairs will be managed when they pass away and ensures that wishes are clearly outlined for the estate executor. Within a will, the testator should identify who will take on the role of estate executor, clearly allocate who will inherit assets, provide a precise outline for how assets will be distributed, and make plans and guardianship designations for children under 18. With help from a lawyer, developing a will is a fairly straightforward process. In doing so, the testator can ensure that there is a plan in place and that it is developed following state and federal regulations. 

What are the advantages of a will?

While there are several advantages to having a will, the most critical aspect of doing so is having the ability to make decisions for the future for a time when you are no longer around to do so. A will can offer peace of mind for the testator and their families because they will know the plan and how it should be executed well in advance. One other key advantage is that a will can help reduce the number of assets that will need to pass through probate, thus allowing heirs to retain as much of the wealth being passed to them as possible. 

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process where a will is validated, and the estate executor is appointed. The court is responsible for ensuring that the estate is properly administered by ensuring that all debts are paid on the estate and that assets are appropriately distributed. When there is a well-executed will in place, there is nothing to be concerned about regarding the process. However, several complications can arise when a person passes away without a will. 

What does it mean when a person dies intestate?

When a person has died intestate, it means they have passed away without a will in place. Should this occur, the estate will always need to endure the probate process. Unfortunately, when there is no place to outline how assets should be distributed, these decisions may be left to the probate judge. Typically how assets are distributed will primarily rely upon the state laws surrounding intestate succession, which is the order in which family members stand to inherit the estate’s assets. Not only can this prolong the probate process, but it can also open the estate up for litigation and familial disputes. 

It can be shocking to learn that many of the US population do not have wills in place when they pass away. Unfortunately, this can result in several complications for loved ones. People over 18 should have a will in place that helps to settle their estate should the unexpected occur.