If you die without a Will, the state will decide how to disburse your estate. And if you have minor children, the state will decide who will raise them. If you haven’t made a Will your plan to leave certain assets to specific persons or make charitable gifts to various causes won’t happen; instead the state’s plan will govern.
Each state has laws directing how to distribute the estate of those who have not made a Will. The state’s plan may direct distribution of your assets to persons for whom you may not want to provide. The court will assign someone to oversee the probating of your estate. It will all be done “by the book.” No special gifts to people outside your family. No provision for churches or other charitable causes you might want to honor with a gift at your death. No concern for your thoughts and desires.
In effect, the state says, “You did not create a Will while you were living and now it’s too late. We will take over and make our own decisions about how it should be distributed.”
Just imagine the difficulties this may cause for your family or friends. Imagine the added expense for an additional layer of oversight. Imagine people you never knew making decisions about your most personal items.
There are many reasons people never create a Will: fear of death; uncertainty about estate distribution; family conflicts; expense; procrastination; no lawyer. However, the plain fact is, no excuse is justified if it allows you to die without a Will.
You don’t need all the answers to get a Will started. You can begin with what you know and make changes and/or additions as you progress. Better to have something workable in place, than nothing at all.
And, make sure you review your Will on a regular basis. As what you own changes over your lifetime and as changes occur in your family (marriages, births, deaths, etc.) your plan will very likely need to be revised and updated.
Make sure you have taken steps to accomplish the single most important act of financial stewardship a Christian can do-----making a Will.
The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.