Estate Planning: Do You Need A Will?

Estate planning and writing a will isn’t just for the rich and famous. If you have dependents and/or any assets at all — a house, a car, jewelry, a bank account, investments — you need a will.

What is a will? A will is a legal document outlining your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children or dependents when you die. Let’s be honest — writing a will isn’t something we enjoy thinking about, but it is a necessity. To be sure your wishes are carried out, outline them in a written will that includes your signature and the signature of witnesses. Consider consulting an attorney to be sure your will is in line with the laws in your state.

If you pass away without a will, a probate court will decide how to distribute your assets. This process can take several months to complete, and guidelines vary from state to state. Essentially, without a will, you allow the state to determine the division of your property. By writing a will, you secure a plan for your beneficiaries and assets.

Pop star, Prince died suddenly more than two years ago. Since he died without a will, his heirs have yet to receive a penny. His net worth is estimated to be between $150 million and $300 million. Sadly, much of that is being eaten up in legal fees while the division of his estate is determined.

Take time now to prepare a will to ease the burden on your loved ones.

Are you ready to prepare your will? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Determine who your beneficiaries will be.
  2. Designate a guardian for your children.
  3. Document all of your assets and the division of those assets.
  4. Nominate an executor of your estate — who do you trust to administer your will upon your death?
  5. Consider hiring an attorney. If you have a high net worth —  or simply want to ensure your will is legally binding —  work with an experienced attorney to guide you through the process.
  6. Keep your plans updated. When a life change occurs, such as getting married or divorced, or adding a child to the family, be sure to update your will accordingly.
  7. Tell your loved ones about your wishes and keep your will and essential documents in a safe and secure place where they can be easily found.

You may not be Prince, but we can all learn from his mistakes. Don’t let another day pass by before taking steps forward in the process of creating a will. Contact DeWitt & Dunn to learn more about estate planning.

Disclosure: DeWitt & Dunn does not provide tax/legal advice. Please consult with the appropriate professional.


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