Many people don’t believe they need to have a will for a variety of reasons. They don’t believe they have enough wealth or things to qualify them to write up a will. Or they think that their children will just deal with diving up their property and financials themselves and they don’t need to involve legal documents. However, the reality is that there will be some negative consequences to leaving this life and not having an official will. And all of these consequences will be the burdens of your loved ones you have left behind. Here are some things that could happen if you do not have a will.
The state court will decide everything for you.
Just because you don’t want to deal with the state and lawyers doesn’t mean your family won’t have to if you do not leave a will. If you die without a official will the probate court will take control of your assets and financials. They will get to decide who gets what and your family will not have a legal say in their decision. This is also true if you left any minor children behind and did not name a guardian. The state will choose who your children should reside with until they turn 18.
The state will appoint an executor.
Because the state is dividing up your assets, they will also have the authority to appoint the executor of those tasks. Generally, this is a person who does not know your family or friends and therefore could cause some tension and stressful situations. They do not know your relationships with your family members and may give something to a family member you never intended to leave them.
You won’t be able to donate to your favorite charities.
One thing that tends to get overlooked when not leaving a will is donating to your favorite charities. If you supported a certain nonprofit throughout your lifetime, you may want to consider giving a planned gift (a gift that is part of your will). This is a way people choose to leave a legacy and by not having a will, the state has no idea that you would have wanted a portion of your money to go towards your favorite nonprofit.
You won’t be able to designate a power of attorney.
If you get to a stage in your life where you are physically or mentally no longer able to make sound decisions regarding your finances or your health care, you will need a power of attorney. Creating an official estate plan gives you the opportunity to name that person who you want to have that authority to make those decisions for you.
As you can see, having a will is extremely important. And it is not just something a person creates when they are older and end of life decisions seem to be more appropriate. No matter what stage of life you are in, you should have an updated will with the help of an estate attorney Cherry Hill, NJ offers turns to as you never know what life will bring and you don’t want to leave your family in a poor situation.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and what happens if you die without a will.