Do you think you aren’t “rich” enough for a will? Think again!
Many people have the misconception that wills are only for the wealthy. However, just about anyone can benefit from having an estate plan, including a last will and testament.
Here are some important reasons to have a will, even if you don’t have a lot of assets:
Less Stress For Your Heirs.
Even if your estate is very small your heirs usually will be better served if you leave a will. If you don’t leave a will and your estate has a value above the minimal limits qualifying it for the special procedures of a “small estate,” then your estate will need to be probated. This means that your heirs will have to prove your death and their relationship to you in order to take possession of your assets. In most situations someone will have to file a petition with the probate court to administer your estate, which can cost a fair amount of time, money, and trouble. Whoever petitions to be appointed as administrator of your estate will most likely have to post a probate bond to protect your heirs in case of the administrator’s fraud or misconduct. This is an expense that can be waived by a valid Last Will and Testament.
Ability to Nominate Guardians For Your Children.
If you have minor children a will allows you to name your top choice for their guardian after you die. While a court will have final say as to who gets appointed, your nomination will receive strong consideration.
Control Over Who Inherits From You.
When you die without a will you leave it up to Alabama’s “intestacy statute” to determine how your property is divided. While the intestacy laws do a pretty good job of following what the average person wants to do with his property upon his death, they may not align with your wishes. What if you have a committed partner whom you are not married to? Under Alabama law if you die without a will your partner will not receive any part of your estate. What if you are a blended family and die leaving a spouse and children from a previous relationship? Absent a will, your spouse and children will share equally in your estate, and that may not be what you want or what’s best for your children. What if your only living relative is a brother whom you haven’t spoken to in thirty years? Alabama’s intestacy statute says that he gets your entire estate even though you are estranged. The only way you can have a say in how your property is divided by using a Will to state your wishes.
Control Over Your Property.
While you may feel like you don’t have enough cash to care what happens to your estate you shouldn’t forget about your non-cash assets, like your personal possessions with sentimental value. If you want your family heirlooms to go to specific people then you should record those wishes in a Last Will and Testament.
Your Financial Situation May Change.
Your estate may become more valuable overnight if, for example, you win the lottery, receive a large inheritance, or get a large raise or bonus at work. You may not care who inherits your property when it’s worth $5,000, but you probably would care if it suddenly ballooned in value to $500,000.00! A will can help you plan for these possibilities, however remote they may seem.
An Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
The best way to know whether you need a will is to discuss your situation with a lawyer. Get peace of mind by talking to our experienced estate planning attorneys today. Call us at 205-553-5353 or come by our Tuscaloosa office to find out what we can do to protect your property and your family.