Think of all the things you own, from the money in your retirement account, to your home, your car, and your beloved stamp collection.
Where will they go after you die? If you are like 61% of Americans who have not created a will, then you are leaving that question up to your home state to decide.
A Shocking Number Of Americans Don’t Have a Will
The legal website, Rocket Lawyer, conducted a survey of Americans in 2013. The survey found that 70% of Americans with children under the age of 18 admitted to not having a will and that the main reason cited for lacking this crucial document, according to 55% of respondents, was that they simply hadn’t gotten around to it.
Why a Will Is Important
If you care about leaving a legacy to your family, then a will is definitely a must. A will allows you to appoint an executor who will follow your written instructions on passing down your assets. Do you want to make sure each of your children or grandchildren has enough money for college if you die? Do you want to see that your stamp collection is safely passed to your brother who will truly appreciate it? This is exactly what a will allows you to do. You can also appoint a guardian for your minor children in your will.
What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
If you die without a will, the state steps in and becomes your executor. The specific actions taken will depend on the laws of your state. In general, your property will be split into shares and distribute them to your heirs, including a surviving spouse, children, siblings and even aunts and uncles if necessary.
The point is that your entire estate will be divvied up by the state, not you! If you have children under 18, the state may also appoint a guardian for them if you don’t have a surviving spouse with custody.
Though the state will try to fairly distribute the estate to your heirs, their laws often don’t take into account today’s changing family structures. For instance, some states don’t recognize domestic partnerships or long-term relationships. You could be in a partnership with someone for twenty years, but if you live in one of these states, he or she will get nothing if you don’t have a will. Likewise, if you want to give money to an important cause, a non-relative, or make sure certain items go to certain members of your family, you are out of luck.
Create A Will This Week
Drafting a will doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or take a lot of time. You can find free or low-cost templates online. While you are getting your affairs in order, we also suggest creating an estate plan, including a durable power of attorney in case you become incapacitated. Again, you can find templates online at websites like Rocket Lawyer or Legal Zoom, or reach out to an estate planning attorney in your area.
For the same amount of time it takes you to pick out your next phone or laptop, you can create a will that will help protect your family and ensure that your legacy goes to the deserving people in your life.