One question you may have had is why you need a will if you are not “wealthy” or “rich.” Many people have the misconception that just because they have modest estates that their assets will somehow pass to their heirs without much time or cost. Some people also tend to focus only on what they have right now when thinking about their estate plan; however, it is also important to be forward-thinking as well.
Regardless of how valuable your estate is, you have worked hard to accumulate what you have and what will eventually be passed on to your heirs. So why not make sure that your hard-earned assets are protected? Most people will benefit from having a will to some extent, regardless of how wealthy or modest their estates are.
What can a will do for me?
Having a will gives you the opportunity to protect your assets by determining who will administer those assets when you die and who will receive those assets. This is important regardless of how much or little you own. Whether you realize it or not, you already have an estate plan, even if you have not executed one. Unless you have drafted your own will, the state in which you reside has laws that dictate what happens to your property when you die. These laws typically give priority to a person’s traditional nuclear family. However, what happens if you cohabitate with a significant other but are not married, if you have a blended family, or if you do not want to leave property to your traditional next of kin? In these cases, the state’s default laws effectively disinherit the people you would otherwise want to have your assets upon your passing.
Is a will enough?
It is important to have a will, but it is often not enough to ensure a seamless and smooth transition upon your passing. Depending on the types of assets and methods of distribution you prefer, your estate will likely benefit from having a trust, in addition to a will. A carefully prepared trust will help your estate avoid the time and cost of a probate administration. A trust gives you the flexibility to decide how your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries. A trust can also plan for other scenarios, such as minor beneficiaries, asset protection, tax planning, special needs planning, or situations where a beneficiary cannot or should not have an outright distribution. An experienced attorney will help you plan for these circumstances and more so your estate plan is tailored to you personally.
As you can see, a will is not just for the wealthy. It plays an important role in all estate plans, and it is something you can create as the first step in your estate planning journey.