A will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. When you die without a will, it’s called dying intestate. A will simply gives the county court a way to make sure your wishes are carried out. A will names an executor, a person you trust to carry out the terms of the will. You can name a person to manage assets left to your minor children. You may also want to provide for a pet in your will. Your will can also help the court decide how to handle debts and taxes after your death. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to help your family through an already difficult time.
Your Estate Goes Through Probate
With or without a will, when you die your estate will go through probate. Probate is a legal process that transfers your property to your beneficiaries and takes care of debts, taxes and the details of death. A will can make that process easier, because the executor doesn’t have to work out the aspects of who inherits what.
If you don’t have a will, the laws of the state decide who gets what. The court will name an executor to take care of your estate, typically a local lawyer or accountant. All fees for this service will come out of the estate. Usually, the estate will be split between the surviving spouse and children. If you wanted to leave any of your assets to friends, domestic partners or charities, when you die intestate, they will get nothing.
Can You Avoid Probate?
A will doesn’t cover every provision, but it’s certainly better than letting your family go through the process of probate with nothing in place. Complicated estates can take a year or more in probate. If you’re interested in avoiding probate, you may want to talk to your lawyer about a trust or estate plan that passes to your heirs through a different legal process.
Do You Need a Will When You’re Young or Have No Assets?
A lot of people don’t think they have many assets, so they don’t need a will. A will is a document that gives someone the authority to manage your affairs. You may have a car loan that needs to handle or minor children who need guardians. Because tomorrow isn’t promised, people of ages should have a will on file. Discuss your situation with an estate planning lawyer, like from the Yee Law Group, to take the best steps for your family.