Your time in this world is limited. Nobody likes thinking about the end, but being prepared for the event can make things a lot easier for your loved ones. Being unprepared for it can lead to years of confusion and arguments for your loved ones at the same time as they are dealing with the difficult event of losing someone dear to them. The basic step in preparing for the end of your life is to prepare a will.
If you die without a will, something still has to be done with your stuff. Instead of a grab-what-you-can free-for-all, there is a set of rules for distributing your stuff called intestacy. So if you die without having a will, the government will determine who gets what. The problem is that in order to simplify its job in these cases, the government simply slaps a dollar value on everything and divides it. This means that anything you want to pass down as an heirloom might instead be sold and the cash split among a few people. Items that have sentimental value to your loved ones might also be sold off. And if these items are not sold off, there is a very real risk of family arguments over how to divide certain items.
What a will does is distribute your property in the way that you want the property distributed. You are the boss. It also means that you can define where funeral costs come from and make sure that the members of your family who most need or deserve help will receive it.
While a very simple will can be done through a form, it is always best to have an attorney either draft or at the least review your will before you execute it. An attorney is your translator for the legal world. A court will look at your will and interpret the words through the eyes of a judge. This means that sometimes things that seem very clear in plain English become ambiguous in court. A lawyer will help you avoid this sort of problem, and also help you plan for other potential issues with your estate that you may not be aware of.
This blog article was not written to provide legal advice. This article is a general overview and does not capture all of the legal case law. You should consult an attorney regarding your Estate Planning needs and not rely on the content of this article.