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When Should I Have a Will?

Posted on Wed Feb 13, 2019, on Estate Planning

From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “When should I have a Will?”

When Should I Have a Will?

Will Drafting Lawyer Kelly Barse.

Examples Answering the Question When Should I Have a Will?:

I find that the best way to learn about a new subject is through examples. In this blog, I am posting a few examples that hopefully will help you determine when a Will is appropriate. For more details, I have included links to more detailed pages. Follow this link for detailed information about Estate Planning in general and this link for For more information about Last Wills and Testament specifically.  Go ahead and read a bit, this page will be ready and waiting once you have the basics firmly in place.

When you have children.

  • When should you have a will? Most certainly once you have a child. Until reaching age 18, a child has limited rights to manage assets. Setting up a protective trust for your child in your will easily avoid complications and expenses.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Cherry Hill died in a car accident survived by their 10-year-old son, Camden.  The Cherry Hills owned a house, bank accounts, and automobiles. Further, they each had life insurance that named Camden as the contingent beneficiary.  Because Camden is not age 18, he cannot manage their estate. As it often happens, Mr. Cherry Hill’s family battled with Mrs. Cherry Hill’s family over who would control the estate. This avoidable litigation delayed the estate, and the cost came out of Camden’s inheritance. The court appointed a lawyer to represent Camden’s interests.  This cost also came out of Camden’s legacy. Over a year later, the court appointed a local bank as Trustee over Camden’s assets. The annual fees come out of Camden’s inheritance.  When Camden reaches age 18, he receives the entire inheritance. At age 18, Camden was not ready to control these funds.  Not unexpectedly, Camden quickly wasted away his inheritance.
      • All of these costs and the result could have been easily avoided. Instead, the Cherry Hills could have had a will forming a protective trust for Camden. They could have named who was in charge of this Trust and picked an age when Camden was mature enough to take over control. For example, 25 years old. With a little planning, all assets would have been held in the trust avoiding the courts.

When You Marry, and Wish to Protect Your Spouse.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Doylestown married. They had no Will.  At Mr. Doylestown’s death, all assets passed to Mrs. Doylestown.  Later, Mrs. Doylestown marries Mr. Allentown. She chose unwisely. She files for divorce.  Mr. Allentown files a claim for much of her assets and demands alimony.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Doylestown could have formed wills that set up a protective trust for the surviving spouse. There are several types of these trust, one being Disclaimer Trusts.  Whichever system they would have used, it was possible to hold some or all of Mr. Doylestown’s share of the estate in trust for Mrs. Doylestown. These trusts are inexpensive, allow a broad spectrum of investments, and pay Mrs. Doylestown’s bills. But, Mr. Allentown’s claims would have been limited or eliminated.

In Conclusion: When Should I Have a Will?

The short answer is always. But, once you have a child or a spouse, then the need becomes vital. I hope this article, providing examples of when you should have a will, proved helpful. We are always happy to brainstorm with you about your own, unique situation. 

Let our Estate Planning Lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our Estate Planning Attorneys.  By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!

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Estate Planning Attorney, Estate Planning Lawyer, Kelly Barse

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