Many people are under the mistaken impression that they do not need a will because they are not a senior citizen. The truth is that every adult should have a will that stipulates what should happen to their property and assets in the even of their death. A skilled estate planning attorney can go over details of the factors that should be addressed in your situation. In the meantime, the following is a brief overview of how wills work.
What happens if I pass away without a will?
The purpose of a will is to ensure that your wishes regarding what happens to your assets and property upon your death are carried out. When a person dies without a will, your assets will be distributed based on what the estate laws are in the state you live in.
The main problem with distributing your assets this way is that the court will not do research to find out what your wishes would have been had you written a will. Instead, the judge will make his or her decision about distributing the assets with the very stringent rules of state law.
Not having a will also leaves the door open to fights among your heirs. If the fighting cannot be resolved, the court may order all of your assets be sold off and the proceeds divided among your heirs. That means a cherished family heirloom, such as a piece of jewelry or art, will no longer be in the family, but instead will be sold to a stranger and the funds divided among the heirs.
How can a will help if I have minor children?
If a person who has minor children dies and there is no other surviving parent, then a will can express what the person’s wishes are for their children by naming who you want to be guardian of your children. If you die without a will, then the court will make that decision of who will raise your children. There is no guarantee that the court will take into consideration what your wishes would have been. This is why it is critical to put these wishes into a legal document.
Can I draft my own will?
Although you are not legally required to have an estate planning attorney draft your will, it is in your family’s best interest that you do so. The will must abide by every legal requirement of the state you live in. For example, the will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. Any changes to your will must be done through what is legally referred to as a codicil.
Failure to do any of these requirements could result in the will being declared invalid. Then the state would consider it the same as if you died without a will. Having a skilled and experienced estate planning lawyer Bloomington, IL relies on to draft your will can help guarantee that the will be legally valid.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Pioletti & Pioletti for their insight into estate planning and wills.