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So why do I need a will?

The short answer is that if you do not have a will, a Court will decides who gets your assets and takes care of your children.


A will is just a simple device that lets you tell the world who you want to get your assets. If you die without one, and the state gets to decide who gets what, without regard to your wishes or the needs of your heirs'.


While so-called intestacy laws (people who die without a will) vary from state to state. In general, if you die and leave a spouse and children, your assets will be split between your surviving spouse and children. The cost for doing the work will be deducted by whomever the court appoints and they may receive nothing in the end. If you are single, then the state will decide who among your relatives gets your belongings.


Drafting a Will is especially important for people with young children, because wills are one of the best ways to transfer guardianship of minors.


You can amend your will at any time. In fact, it's a good idea to review it periodically and especially when your family and marital status changes. At the same time, review your beneficiary designations for your 401(k), IRA, pension and life insurance policy since those accounts will be transferred automatically to your named beneficiaries when you die.


A will is also useful if you have a trust. A trust is a legal mechanism that lets you put conditions on how your assets are distributed after you die and it often lets you minimize gift and estate taxes. But you still need a will since most trusts deal only with specific assets such as life insurance or a piece of property, but not the sum total of your holdings.


Even if you have what's known as a revocable living trust in which you can put the bulk of your assets, you still need what's known as a pour-over will. In addition to letting you name a guardian for your children, a pour-over will ensures that all the assets you intended to put into the trust are put there even if you fail to retitle some of them before your death.


Any assets that are not retitled in the name of the trust are considered subject to probate. As a result, if you haven't specified in a will who should get those assets, a court may decide to distribute them to heirs whom you may not have chosen.


Attorney Brendan M. Kelly has been helping diverse clients to address estate planning needs and the needs of their families. He will keep you up to date and provide the resources and options you need to meet all your concerns. Put Brendan to work for your estate-planning needs.


Please note some of the information has been taken from Wikimedia projects http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Home.