I’m broke, so why do I need a will?
When you think about estate planning, do you imagine people with wealth distributing their property? You might think that it’s only those who are well-off who need to plan for their incapacitation or death, but the reality is that everyone 18 and older, regardless of wealth level, should have an estate plan in place.
Part of your estate plan is your will. A basic will is the first, and potentially most important, document to develop regardless of your income or the assets you hold. A basic will is relatively inexpensive to set up and makes sure your wishes upon death are known.
What does a will do for you?
A will is an estate planning tool used to designate different beneficiaries for your estate. Your will gives you the opportunity to make requests about how your assets are distributed. Even if you don’t have very much to your name, any assets you do have need to be included in the will for distribution. If they are not included, then your assets may go into probate, which is a long and tedious legal process for families and loved ones to navigate.
When you create a will, you are also able to establish who you’d like to have serve as the administrator or executor of your estate. If you have children, your will may also help you establish a guardian if you can no longer care for them in the future.
Avoiding probate is the primary reason for a will
Probate, a costly legal process in which the court decides how to distribute your property, can take months or years to complete. This leaves heirs without the property that you intended for them, at least until the court handles the payment of past debts and claims against your estate.
Unfortunately, going through probate is costly, and it may result in assets being distributed in a way that you did not intend. For that reason, it’s smarter to create a will. Even if you only have a few personal belongings, like a vehicle, jewelry or clothing, a will helps you distribute those items to the people you want to have inherit them.