Most people understand that, at some point in their lives, it is in their best interest to create a will. After all, should you have the misfortune to pass on without a will, you die intestate – meaning the government gets to decide how to distribute your property and assets. But despite that awareness, a 2017 survey by Caring.com revealed that only 42% of adults in the U.S. have a document like a will or living trust.
There is a common misconception around wills that you will not require one – or even have to think about one – until you reach your later years of life. The two most common reasons cited in the survey for not having an estate planning document included “haven’t gotten around to it” from 47% of respondents and “don’t have enough assets to leave anyone” from 29% of respondents. But estate planning is not just for the elderly and wealthy. If any of the following apply to you, a will is essential not only for determining where your assets will go but for the peace of mind of your loved ones:
If you are married, you need a will
According to Georgia inheritance laws, should you die intestate, your surviving spouse will become the sole heir of your assets. However, if you have any children or descendants, your spouse and children will divide your assets equally – though your spouse’s portion will not be less than a one-third share.
If you are married, it’s critical to have a will that indicates what portion of your assets you would like your spouse to receive – especially if you wish to include other heirs not named by default, such as stepchildren, extended family or close friends.
If you have kids, you need a will
While the law in Georgia states that surviving children will share your estate equally, it’s crucial to have a will in place to ensure you dictate how much you would like them to receive. What’s more, a will is a must-have if you have children who are minors. This will allow you to have control over who their legal guardian will be should you face an untimely death. If you’ve remarried or have a blended family, it’s also essential to explicitly state how you want your stepchildren included.
While it’s easy to make excuses why you don’t need one now, a reliable will is the only way to ensure that your family is taken care of after you’re gone.