You have taken care of your family throughout your life, and that doesn’t have to end when you go. Making a detailed will can take care of them for years to come. Failing to make a draft, though, can lead to tumultuous times.
Over 35% of people have, or know someone who has, experienced conflict within their family because of an incomplete plan. If you don’t give instructions for handling your estate, you’re likely leaving it to the state to decide.
State of probate
Probate can look very different when you don’t draft a will. Any wishes you made known through unofficial channels may not mean much, and the state will probably take control:
- Administration: You name the person in charge of handling your estate once you pass. They will be in charge of important steps like contacting beneficiaries, settling debts and handing out property. Without a will, the probate court will appoint someone to handle the matter.
- Debts: Your estate is generally responsible for any money you owed, plus the costs that arise during probate. Without setting your wishes in stone, your estate will pay debts first by cash, then personal property and then by selling your real estate.
- Distribution: You can use a will to name family, friends or organizations as destinations for your assets. Without instructions, state law will dictate how to distribute your estate. Property will generally go to your spouse and children if applicable, then on down the family tree as necessary.
Taking care of your family doesn’t have to stop when you’re no longer around. You can protect them from in-fighting by leaving explicit instructions on how you plan to provide for each of them with the assets you leave behind.