My law office is mostly civil litigation, and I spend a great deal of time helping clients who want to plan their estates. Of course, nobody wants to think of the time they won’t be around to help their loved ones, but you will feel better knowing you have done everything you can to take care of them after you are gone.
Who Needs a Will?
If you leave a will, your loved ones will know for sure how you want to divide up your assets. You will name an executor, who will be someone you trust, who will make sure that your wishes from your will are carried out. You can also specify in your will how you want your funeral arrangements, to save your loved ones the stress of making those decisions themselves. Also, if you have minor children, you can name guardians who will care for them if you die before they reach adulthood.
When you die, all your assets will go through a process called probate whether or not there is a will. During that process, your creditors will receive payment before your assets are divided. Unless you have a very large estate, there probably won’t be inheritance taxes. However, it could take some time for your affairs to get settled, during which time your loved ones will not have access to the money or other assets you left them.
Living Wills and Other Legal Proxies
You may also wish to establish a Living Will so that others will know what decisions to make for your care if you are dying. For instance, you can say what kind of care you would like and if you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops. Other important legal documents include a Health Care Power of Attorney, which allows a specific person to make medical decisions for you in certain circumstances. If you run a business, you may seriously want to consider a Durable Power of Attorney, which lets someone else manage your business affairs if necessary.