A will allows you to specify what you want to happen to your assets after you die. Your need for a will is not based on your age. And you probably need one if you’re wealthy or not. If you don’t have a will, here’s what could happen upon your death:
- Your family will pay the maximum tax on your assets.
- Your kids will get your assets when they turn 18 (or 21 if that’s the age of majority in your state).
- The court will pick a guardian for your kids.
- Your estate will be probated, stripping you of privacy when your assets become a public record. And probate is very expensive.
If the thought of any of the above frighten you, you need a will. A will does not avoid probate, however. To completely avoid probate, you need a revocable living trust plus a pour-over will. Consult with an estate planning attorney, rather doing it yourself using a book or software program, especially if your assets could be difficult to value, or if you have specific or unusual instructions to be carried out. State law governs in these manners, and with so much at stake, the benefits far outweigh the cost of professional guidance.