1. You Decide Who Inherits Your Money, Possessions, and Property
If you die without a will intestacy laws apply, and the state decides who inherits your estate. A will makes sure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you want them and prevents your estate from passing to unintended beneficiaries. A will also allows you to disinherit individuals who would otherwise be eligible to inherit from you.
2. You Decide Who Administers Your Estate
Having a valid will allows you to choose who handles administering your estate. Without a will the state will decide who has control over the division of your assets. Executors play a major role in the administration of your estate, and you’ll want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organized rather than have the state select who they think is best suited to handle your affairs.
3. Ensure Your Children are Properly Cared For
Having a will can ensure that your children will be cared for by the person you want. Absent a will, the court will take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian. There is no guarantee that the court will pick the person you would have chosen, or even one you approve of at all.
4. Minimize Family Disputes
Having a will helps minimize any family fights about your estate that may arise. Intestacy law can create situations where friends and relatives are left out and this often leads to extra strain on the family. Additionally, if you wish leave your property or assets to someone outside of your immediate family or a non-blood relative, a will ensures that this will happen. This is especially important for those with a non-traditional family. Those in a same-sex relationship in particular should designate whom they want to receive their assets in a will.
5. Avoid a Lengthy Probate Process
Having a will speeds up the probate process by informing the court how you would like your estate divided. When you die without a will, the court will decide how to divide your estate which can be a timely and contentious process.
6. Minimize Estate Taxes
Having a will may allow you to minimize your estate taxes because the value of what you give away to family members or charity may reduce the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.
7. Set Out Your Funeral Wishes
Creating a will allows you to dictated the terms of your funeral and burial. If you have a preference to be buried or cremated you can express those wishes in your will.