If you have never been married and don’t have children, do you really need a will? It’s a common question. However, like many legal questions, the answer is nuanced. If any of the following eight statements apply to you as an unmarried individual, you should look in to drafting a will.
- If you want to control who gets what when you die instead of the court deciding for you, you need a will. Owning property a big as a house or as small as your grandmother’s ring merits a will if you have any desire to determine what happens to it upon your passing. If you own your own business, this should be a no-brainer. In most cases, dying intestate (without a will) means a probate court judge makes those decisions for you.
- If you own assets that do not designate beneficiaries, you need a will. IRAs, life insurance policies, and bank account may offer the opportunity to designate beneficiaries upon your death, but other assets (car, house, heirlooms, collections, etc.) do not. Without a will, the court will decide what happens to those things.
- If you have positive net worth, you need a will. In other words, if the sum of your assets is greater than the sum of your debts, you need a will. There can be an argument made that someone who owes $90,000 in student loans but only has $50,000 worth of assets doesn’t need a will. Essentially, everything is already spoken for by the debt. However, if you own more than you owe, having a will makes life easier for those you leave behind.
- If you want a say in who decides what happens to your estate by naming an executor, you need a will. An executor is responsible for making sure that the wishes stated in your will are carried out. Without an established executor or a will, a judge decides.
- If you want to minimize the tax burden of your estate, you need a will. When you allocate your assets to certain individuals, estate taxes are not leveraged against those funds. In other words, there are tax benefits for those who survive you when you have a will.
- If you want to leave something (including your body) to charity when you die, you need a will. Charitable estate and scientific contribution wishes may not be followed if they are not specified in the legal context of a will. It can become a case of he said/she said when one party believes they know the deceased’s wishes and another holds a different view. The best way to prevent disputes and ensure your wishes are carried out is to have a will.
- If you have pets you want to be cared for upon your death, you need a will. If nobody steps up to care for your pet and you haven’t designated a caregiver, the animal will likely go to a shelter.
- If you’re the guardian of elderly parents or a sibling with special needs, you need a will. Elderly parents who struggle with dementia or the lasting effects of a stroke may no longer be able to make decisions for themselves. If you’re the person making those decisions now, who will do so when you die? In the same way, a sibling with special needs may require a voice and decision-maker for them in legal, medical, and financial matters. While these individuals may not be your children, you need to make provisions for who will care for them after your death.
If you need help drafting a will or have questions about what you should include, reach out to a Lovelace Law, PC attorney. The consultation is free.