The answer to that question has always been an unequivocal “yes”—especially when there’s a spouse, children or stepchildren. However, there are some financial advisers that now say many Americans might not need a will. Forbes’ article, “Do You Really Need A Will?” says that a simpler life may mean you will need a less complex estate plan. However, few people’s lives are that simple.
If you have minor children, you need a will to designate guardians for them. Also, a will or a trust will let you name someone to watch over assets for a disabled or elderly family member or a relative who may not be good with handling money.
Whether you have prized possessions or you want to bequeath some of your estate to the local animal rescue, a will is essential.
The state in which you live can make a big difference. In community property states, your surviving spouse will only inherit all your community property if all your children are also the children of that spouse. Otherwise, your one-half interest in your community estate will pass to your children. If there is any kind of animosity or resentment, they could make your spouse sell the house and send him or her packing because the kids own half the house.
Without a will, a pet can wind up in a shelter after you die if no one takes responsibility for it. A will can name a responsible person and make for a smoother transition for the animal.
A will can also help elderly parents avoid losing government benefits if you predecease them. If they are beneficiaries of your life insurance policy, a large payout may halt their government benefits unless you write a specific provision in your will.
Reference: Forbes (August 31, 2016) “Do You Really Need A Will?”