Do I need a last will and testament?

Clients often call Dozier Miller Law asking whether they need a Last Will and Testament (commonly called a “will”). The simple answer is “yes, if you are going to die, it is important to have a current will in place.” Anyone who dies without a current will leaves his or her family in a very difficult position. If you do not have a will, your assets will pass by “intestate succession,” which means state law governs how your property will be distributed. The intestate succession laws often do not distribute assets in a way that is best for your family.

If you are considering whether it is time to hire a last will and testament attorney, here are a few key questions to consider.

  1. Who gets your home and other real property when you die? Leaving your home to more than one person can often lead to disagreements about whether to let family live in the home, rent the home out, or put it up for sale. Many wills instruct that the home be sold and the proceeds split evenly to avoid such disputes.
  2. Who will care for your minor children? If your children are under 18, the courts will have to decide who cares for your children in the event you pass away without a will. By having a will prepared, you can instruct the court on who will be guardian for your minor children and also who will be trustee over any funds your children may receive. Without a will in place, the well-being of your children is left entirely to the court’s discretion.
  3. Who gets your personal property? Unless a will provides specific instructions, all property will pass according to state law. This means your most prized possessions may not go to the family members you would have selected. For instance a mother will often want her first-born daughter to inherit her engagement ring. Without a will stating this very specific desire, your property will go where the court orders, with no consideration given to sentimental value.
  4. Who is going to manage your estate? A properly prepared will always instructs who is in charge of closing out your earthly affairs. This person is called an executor or executrix. If you don’t have a will in place, the court will appoint an administrator to settle your estate. For obvious reasons, it is best to make this selection yourself instead of leaving such a critical decision to the court.

At Dozier Miller Law, we are always happy to meet with new and existing clients to determine whether it is time to create a new will or update an old one.

Contact Dozier Miller Law’s estate planning attorneys today:

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