Written by Verity Law Associate Attorney Lisa A. Roelands
The simple answer, yes. A will is the legal document that allows you to direct how your assets will be distributed after your death. Even if your estate plan requires more than a will, the will is the foundation of your estate plan.
Failure to have an executed will can result in the State determining who is entitled to your assets through a process called intestate succession.
For example, most married couples prefer their estate to pass to their surviving spouse. Intestate laws divide up the property between your spouse and your children. For many families this can create a number of issues. What if the share that passes to your spouse is not enough for them to live on? For those with minor children, additional questions arise. For example, who will be in charge of your children’s funds and how will your spouse access those funds if they need the funds in order to make ends meet.
Having a will in place will give you and your family peace of mind when you pass. Your family will know exactly how the assets are to be distributed so the will can reduce the risk of friction within the family. Many times when a family member passes away, emotions are high and uncertainty over who is entitled to what can lead to fights within the family. These fights likely can be avoided by putting together an estate plan that specifically lays out who is entitled to the assets.
Some people believe that they can avoid putting a will in place by naming individuals as joint owners of accounts and property. This often is not the best way to go. While it may avoid probate, the individual who is named as the successor or joint owner on those items becomes the sole owner after you pass. Maybe you hope that your child will divide the property with their siblings after you’re gone, but they are under no obligation to do so once they become the sole owner. This type of planning is ripe for leading to disputes and possibly litigation between family members.
The best way to ensure that your estate passes according to your wishes and to avoid future conflict between your family members is to put together an estate plan. If you would like to learn more information about estate planning, contact Verity Law today! Verity Law will walk you through the estate planning process step by step to put together a customized estate plan for you.
Contact Lisa Roelands at (616) 258-7244 or firstname.lastname@example.org