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Costly mistakes a will can help you avoid.
Did you know that 68% of Americans don’t have a will? Estate planning and wills shouldn’t be left until the last minute. A will gives your family guidance on how to divide your estate. If you die without a will, the court and the laws of your state determine how your estate will be split. Disaster strikes when you least expect it, it’s best to be prepared now instead of leaving your family members to face costly mistakes after you’re gone.
Without a will, you lose the ability to direct who receives your assets
If you don’t leave a will, then your spouse and heirs don’t know how to divide your estate. The state will appoint a personal representative to manage your estate.
In Massachusetts, your spouse can be appointed as a personal representative. If you don’t have a surviving spouse, your heirs can be appointed as personal representative. Your surviving spouse or heirs are likely grieving the loss of their loved one. The last thing they want to do is catalog all your belongings and determine how to split it up among your family members.
In addition, if dividing your estate becomes contentious your spouse or heirs may need to spend a considerable amount of money on attorney’s fees to get help with the process. With a will, you can appoint someone ahead of time to manage your estate after you pass such as an attorney or a mutual third party.
Your spouse may not receive your full estate
In Massachusetts, if you die without a will and you have living parents or descendents (children, grandchildren, etc.) your spouse will only receive a share of your estate.
You have parents and other relatives, but no descendants (children): your spouse inherits the first $200,000 of your estate. Then, two thirds of the remaining balance after your parents and relatives receive their portion.
You have descendants from your spouse, and your spouse has no other descendants outside your marriage: your spouse inherits everything.
You have descendants shared with your spouse, and your spouse has descendants from another relationship: your spouse inherits $100,000 of your estate plus half the remaining balance after your parents and relatives receive their portion.
Your children may not receive anything from your estate: without a will, your foster children or stepchildren will not automatically receive a share of your estate. Only children that are blood related to you or that you have legally adopted will receive a share.
With a will, you get to decide exactly who receives what amount. Otherwise, it will be divided in accordance with Massachusetts laws and your spouse might not receive enough to continue supporting the full household, step-children, foster children, or other family members. A will can give you and your family members a peace of mind.
The court will appoint a guardian for your children
If you die without a will and without a surviving spouse, the judge will have to make an educated guess regarding who is the best fit to care for your children, looking first at any relatives willing to be a guardian.
A will allows you to appoint a guardian for your children. That way, your children and the guardian know what will happen if something happens to you. Your children won’t have to go through a lengthy guardianship appointment process.
It’s important to plan for the unexpected and for the future. If for nothing else, make a will to ensure your loved one’s security.