When it comes to your future, and the future of your family, a will is one of the most important pieces of paper you can have. Dying intestate – without a will – can lead to serious complications for your loved ones. An active will is your way of telling the state, and everyone else, exactly what you want to have happen to your assets. If you don't have a will, it's up to the courts to determine how your assets are divided. If you have minor children, it's also up to the courts to determine who receives guardianship of them. As far as family members and asset division goes, the courts usually follow specific guidelines regarding who gets what. However, without a will, your estate could be tied up in probate court for years. Here's what can happen if you don't have a will.
Creditors can Swoop In and Take Everything
If you don't have a will, and a good estate plan, your assets could be ravaged by creditors after your death. You might not realize this, but without proper protection for your estate, creditors can go into court and file claims against all your assets. Once that happens, those creditors will be taken care of before your loved ones ever see one dime of your assets. Unfortunately, if you have considerable debt to settle, your family could be left with nothing once you pass away. With an active will, and a secure estate plan, your family can avoid the heartache of watching their future get ripped away by creditors.
Your Partner can Get Left Out
If you've been living with your unmarried partner, and you haven't set up a domestic partnership, they may not receive any of your estate if you die without a will. That's because the courts don't recognize unmarried partners as individuals entitled to your assets. For the purposes of inheritance, only actual relatives are given rights to assets when someone passes away without a will. That can be extremely devastating to a live-in partner who depended on you for support. You can eliminate that problem by filing a will that specifically outlines what you want your long-time partner to receive from your estate after your passing.
Family Members can Come Out of the Woodwork
There's nothing like a death in the family to bring relatives out of the woodwork. Add the lack of a will, and the number of relatives can multiply quickly. If you die without a will, the loved ones that you want to benefit from your estate could end up waiting through a long line of long-lost relatives who want to lay claim to your assets. You can keep those long-lost relatives away from your assets by executing a will before you pass away.
Don't leave your estate to chance. Make sure your assets are divided exactly the way you want them to be by sitting down with a lawyer, such as fromLynn Jackson Shultz & Lebrun PC, to have a legal will drawn up.