A 2011 survey found that 60 percent of Americans stated that they did not have a will. Ohio residents who are unsure about whether such a document is necessary may want to consider how one may be beneficial. Death can occur unexpectedly and sooner than many individuals may think. According to information from the National Center for Health Services, out of the 2.5 million people who died in the United States in 2011, over 90,000 of them were between the ages of 20 and 39.
A will allows people to allocate their assets according to their wishes. In the absence of a will, the probate court will distribute the decedent’s property according to state intestacy law, and the result could be far different than what the decedent would have wanted.
The welfare of an individual’s surviving minor children can be safeguarded by a will. A guardian can be specified, so that the children are in the care of someone trusted by the decedent. Having a will in place can also reduce expenses for beneficiaries. It can shorten probate time, reducing attorney fees and speeding up the receipt of assets by the named heirs. With a will in place that clearly details beneficiaries, family conflicts and lawsuits can in many cases be avoided.
While it is of course one of the most important estate planning documents, a will is just one of many tools that an estate planning attorney might recommend to a client. Another valuable tool is a power of attorney, which allows a trusted individual to make financial or health care decisions if the principal becomes incapacitated.