What is a will?

A will is an outline of your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries upon your death. While a will is not necessary and there are certain things they won’t do, it is a good idea to have one.

What a will won’t do?

Wills are made to ensure your wishes are followed upon death, however, there are things that your will won’t do. For example, a will won’t set out plans for your funeral. Funerals must occur within a few days of a body being deceased; however, most wills are not located until several days/weeks after the fact. With little time to decide what to do with the decedent’s body, it is a better alternative to have a separate document with your wishes for when the time comes and an executor who knows where to find it.

Another thing your will won’t do is allow you to leave a gift that is contingent upon something serious like marriage or divorce of the recipient. It is, however, possible to leave a gift to someone with conditions of a less serious manner. For example, you can leave money for your child to attend college, if and when they decide to go. It is also important to know that you cannot leave anything to your pet. Unfortunately, man’s best friend cannot own property, so you cannot leave anything for your pets in your will.

When to make changes to your will?

There are several instances in which you should talk to your attorney about making changes to your will. You should make changes to your will when your family is changing. If your family grows, your marital status changes, or you lose a family member previously included in your will, it is time for an update. Whenever probate or estate laws change you should check to see if they affect you because you may need to update your will. If you inherit a large sum of money which could alter your will you should consider updating it as well. It is important to keep your will up to date to ensure your wishes are followed and no errors occur.

What happens if you die without a will?

Intestacy is the term for dying without a will. Intestacy means that the distribution of your assets may not go as intended. If you die without a will a state statute will determine the distributions of your assets as well as potentially determining the guardianship of your minor children. Furthermore, additional taxes and fees may be imposed upon your property transfers and distributions if there is no will upon death.