Do I Need A Will?
A last will and testament—commonly referred to as a “will”—is not something many people are comfortable thinking about. People often associate creating a will with senior age, terminal illnesses, and imminent death. However, what they do not realize is that a will is not just for old, ill, or wealthy individuals.
As unsettling as it may be to think about the possibility of dying, it is a fact of life. If something unexpected happens to you and you die without a will, you put a heavy burden on your family and leave them exposed to many headaches and responsibilities.
That is why we—at Shabbick & Associates, PC—are committed to helping people understand the importance of having a will in place, even if they are still young and healthy. Our estate planning attorneys in Bethlehem and Palmerton, Pennsylvania, provide strong and dependable legal representation to help clients alleviate the stress and burden of writing a will. We also serve Carbon, Lehigh, and Northampton counties.
What Is a Last Will and Testament?
A last will and testament is a document you create in your lifetime with the primary purpose of assuring that your property and assets are distributed according to your wishes after you are gone.
With a will, you can have complete control over everything in your estate. In addition to outlining your wishes for the distribution of assets, a will also allows you to name guardians for your minor children, select the executor of the estate, and make charitable donations, among other things.
Essentially, you should treat your will as your plan to deal with the unexpected. Even if you do not anticipate leaving this world any time soon, having a solid plan in place can give you and your family peace of mind.
The Benefits of Having a Will
Many people do not think they need a will because they often do not understand what can be accomplished with this document. Some of the benefits of having a will include:
Making your wishes known. Without a will, your assets will be distributed to heirs according to your state’s intestacy laws, which may not be in line with your wishes. A will makes your wishes known to your loved ones, the court, and the executor, whose main responsibility is to carry out the will’s instructions.
Making sure your loved ones are cared for after your passing. If you have children who have not reached the age of 18 or family members with special needs, you can name guardians to make sure that your loved ones are cared for in the event something happens to you. In fact, you can even include a pet clause in the document to make sure that your beloved pet friends are provided for.
Reducing inheritance tax. A well-crafted will may help you reduce the amount of inheritance tax that your beneficiaries would pay after your passing.
Avoiding inheritance disputes. When a person dies without properly documenting their wishes for the distribution of assets, hostile and costly inheritance disputes are likely to arise. With a valid will in place, your family members are less likely to fight over inheritance because they must abide by the instructions outlined in the document.
Despite these and many other benefits of having a valid will in place, 6 in 10 U.S. adults do not have this document, according to statistics provided by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Who Needs a Will?
As mentioned earlier, everyone could benefit from having a will in place, even if they are still young, in good health, and just starting out in life with little to no assets. However, there are specific categories of people who could benefit from writing a will the most:
Married individuals. When you have a valid and well-drafted will in place, there should be no room for ambiguity and confusion if something happens to you. The document will specify who gets what upon your death and prevent unnecessary family conflicts.
People with children. If you have children, especially multiple children, you need to consider writing a will and specifying who should inherit your assets. If you do not want one or several of your children to inherit, this should be reflected in the document. If your children have not reached the age of 18 yet, you can use the last will and testament to name guardians for your kids.
Having a positive net worth. Even if you are not married and have no children, it may still make sense to write a will if you have a positive net worth. In other words, if your assets exceed your liabilities, you need to take the time to determine who should manage your estate and decide who should inherit your assets if you pass away.
If you are still unsure whether or not you need a will, do not worry. Our attorneys at Shabbick & Associates, PC can help. We can evaluate your specific situation during a free consultation and explain how having a will could benefit you and your family.
Get Knowledgeable Guidance From an Attorney
Writing a will as part of your estate plan is one of the most essential things you can do to protect your legacy and the people you care about. Our knowledgeable attorneys at Shabbick & Associates, PC can assist you with drafting a will to make sure it is in compliance with the law and consistent with your wishes and goals. Contact our office to request a free initial consultation.