Thinking About Making a Will? 5 Reasons Why it's a Financially Important Move to Make

By Myles Leva

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Last Updated: January 14, 2023

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Making a will does more than distribute your assets in the way that you specify.

Well, that’s one of the important things they do. But they can play a huge role in the events that transpire following your death.

Let’s go over why you should make a will today. We will be covering:

  • The four basic functions of a will
  • 5 reasons it's smart to make a will
  • The most important factors of having a will

 

 

What are the four basic functions of a will?

There are four simple functions that a will normally fulfills.

  • First, they list out how your assets are to be distributed.
  • They appoint guardians for minors under your care and any other dependents of yours.
  • They name the party that is meant to oversee everything written into your will.
  • Lastly, they see to it that your funeral wishes are adhered to.

These are simple tasks on the surface level, but the devil is in the details. Some of these things have automatic, legal responses should you not specify your desires in your will. However, there are a few things to consider if you’re hesitating to make a will.

 

 

5 Reasons to Make a Will Today

Overall, we can cite 5 reasons why making a will is more than just another item that should be on your financial to-do list.

One: Asset distribution

A will is the only way to ensure that your properties and assets will be distributed according to your wishes after your death.

It enables you to provide every valuable asset you own with a “mission”. This helps you ensure that your loved ones are taken care of. It also ensures your properties are distributed to the family members and organizations of your choosing.

The only alternative is rendering your property and assets subject to the laws of intestacy in your locality. In the US, the laws of intestacy vary by state. In general, they are similar in that they distribute your property to your closest relatives.

This always starts with your spouse and children. If you don’t have either, it will normally start with your parents and siblings, then move on to other relatives in a pre-specified order. If you have no living relatives at all, your assets are all returned to the state.

In general, these laws may somewhat suffice for many people. But intestacy laws are complex and vary by state. That means that unless you are an estate lawyer, you can’t really know that your properties will be distributed according to your wishes.

 

Two: Care of minors

If you have any minors under your care, a will takes on a new importance.

The care of your children upon your death is an important topic that a will covers. You can appoint a guardian to care for them should you pass away.

Similarly to the first point, if you don’t appoint a guardian in your will, a court will decide for you after you die. Their choice may or may not be in line with your wishes. Single parents and couples should both pay equal attention to this.

 

Three: Probate

The probate process is the legal process of carrying out the terms of a will. It is another time-consuming process that can lead to confusion. In some cases, it leads to fights among family members and legal battles.

Without a will, the probate process is destined to be grinding and painful. Making a will is the best way to ensure that the process is smoother and involves less conflict.

 

Four: Executors

Similarly, without naming an executor, more confusion could possibly ensue as the court will appoint one for you.

The executor is the person responsible for carrying out the terms of your will.

They will take on important duties such as:

  • Managing your estate.
  • Take care of any unfinished financial responsibilities like unpaid taxes and debts.
  • See to the distribution of your property according to your will.

The executor appointed for the above responsibilities has a lot of work to do. They should ideally be someone who is organized, trustworthy, and reliable.

 

Five: Digital assets

The other points cover the traditional process for managing and distributing your assets after your death.

You can write inheritance into your will, donate to charities of your choice, or have properties used for specific purposes that are fulfilled by your executor. But in the digital age, people leave a digital footprint behind when they die as well.

Your digital assets include all your online accounts, such as online bank accounts, social media, and emails. You can determine what happens to them by writing your wishes into a will. You can determine:

  • Who has access to these accounts
  • How you want them managed
  • Other

Sometimes, digital assets come with post-death protocols written into their terms of service. However, there is usually no clear guidance. That can mean:

  • Accounts linger without activity
  • Bank accounts shut down and/or incur inactivity fees
  • Other

Your clear guidance written into a will can help you avoid these problems.

 

 

What are the most important factors of a will?

The first and most important thing you should know about a will is that it must be in writing.

Then, the writing must be followed by your signature. If it isn’t in writing, it isn’t valid under the law. Similarly, your signature is required.

In addition, the signing of your will must be witnessed by at least two people. They must watch you sign, then they must sign it as witnesses themselves.

Of course, your will must also comply with any relevant laws made at any government level. Any items that contradict these laws are invalid.

For the best effect, your will must be concise and specific. Anything too confusing or general can easily lead to friction in implementing your will.

Lastly, for a will to be considered valid, it must have been drafted and signed by an individual of sound mind. That means that the signer (testator) must be able to understand their actions and their implications.

 

 

Conclusions

Thinking about making a will? Your brain is pointing you in the right direction!

The content of a will has serious implications for your family, community, and the future of your assets. Likewise, the absence of a will also has serious, mostly negative implications.

To avoid confusion and protect the financial health of your family, among many other goals, get started writing a will.

Photo by Matthias Zomer

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