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Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog

Why Do I Need a Will?

March 28, 2023
Andrew Sigerson
Just under half of Americans have a will, according to data from Gallup. J.P. Morgan Wealth Management data suggests that this number may even be lower, especially among Black and Hispanic investors.

J.P Morgan Wealth Management’s recent article entitled, “Estate planning: Why everyone should have a will,” explains that your will doesn't just control who gets your money; it also controls when they get it and who's in charge of the process. For those with young children, a will is also the only place where you can tell a judge who should be your children's guardian if something happens to you and you have no spouse — or if something happens to both of you at the same time.

A will is a legal document that determines what happens to your assets and liabilities after you pass away. This includes your money, real estate, other investments, personal belongings, collectibles, autos and more.

If you have children, it permits you to designate guardians if your children are under 18.

A will can even include funeral arrangements. However, you should note that it may take time for your family to locate your will, so you may want to state the wishes for your funeral in a separate document.

Among other things, you can:

  • Determine who inherits your assets;
  • Decide under what conditions your heirs can control their inheritance;
  • Designate guardians for your minor children; and
  • Decide who will be in charge of overseeing your estate until your heirs receive their inheritance.

Estate planning is the process of preparing for what happens after you die (and potentially for any incapacity beforehand).

This entails not only drafting your will, but also how you own assets (asset titling), who can make decisions for you if you're unable to make your own decisions, and what kind of legacy you want to leave.

This may involve the help of an experienced estate planning attorney who can help crystallize the issues you should consider and guide you to a strategy once you're clear on your goals and objectives.

If you don’t have a will that details the distribution of your assets, state law will do this for you.

Reference: J.P Morgan Wealth Management (Jan. 27, 2023) “Estate planning: Why everyone should have a will”

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