Do I Need A Will?

Yes.  Many people make the mistake of thinking that you don’t need a will unless you have a lot of money or property.  In fact, a will is the only legal means by which you can communicate to your loved ones what you want to happen after you pass away.  Wills are especially important for people who have been married more than once, are currently in a common law (also called an “informal”) marriage or who have children by different people.  In a will, you can not only state where you want your money and property and personal effects to go, but also where and how you want to have your remains disposed of (burial versus cremation, for example), and grant standing (the right to come to court) to someone other than another parent who you wish to have raise your children.  If you die without a will, you are said to be “intestate” and the court will distribute your estate according to the laws of intestate succession.  Usually, any other evidence about your wishes will not be allowed in court in the absence of a will.  Sadly, I have seen many cases of intestate deaths where the survivors turned on each other, spending large amounts of money on attorney fees and court costs and generating bad feelings among people who ought to have been united in grief.  Please, spare your loved ones that sort of heartache.  While you’re at it, you should also strongly consider a medical power of attorney (designating someone to make health care decisions for you if you can’t) and a directive to physicians (stating whether or not you wish to be maintained on life support if you have little or no chance of recovery).

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