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10 Reasons You Need A Will Even If You Don't Think You're Rich Enough

10 Reasons You Need A Will Even If You Don't Think You're Rich Enough
April 8, 2021

Have you been avoiding estate planning because you don't think you have enough assets to need a will? Wills are not only for very wealthy people. They can and should be used by everyone who has a family or any assets. In spite of this, 70% of Americans have not written one. Dying without a will can cause issues with how your estate is divided, conflicts within your family, and a much lengthier and potentially expensive process in distributing your assets – regardless of how many you have.

10 Reasons You Need A Will — Even If You Don't Think You Are Rich Enough

1. A will puts you in charge of how your estate will be distributed. 

If you die without a will, your state's laws will decide how your property is divided. With a will, you can both list people as beneficiaries for specific assets, name beneficiaries for the residual property (anything that you don't list specifically), and exclude certain people from receiving anything. Having a will ensures that any property or assets you do have will go to the people (or charities) that you want it to. Without one, it may be distributed in a way that you would not choose.

2. A will can nominate a guardian for your minor children. 

Even if you don't have a lot of assets, you need a will if you have children. Absent a will, a court may have to choose a guardian for your children if both you and the other parent die, or if you are a single parent. Consider all the decisions a guardian will have to make – food, housing, education, and health care – and whether you want to have a say in who is making those decisions for your kids. If you die without leaving a will, the court may choose a guardian that you disagree with.

3. A will allows you to pick who will manage your estate. 

Even if you don't have a lot of assets, you want someone that you trust and is capable of wrapping up your affairs, including selling your house, closing bank accounts, and more. If you write a will, you as the "testator" can nominate your "executor" (in Florida we call it a “personal representative” to handle all of this. If you don't, the court will pick one for you, and again, it might not be the person you would choose for the job.

4. If you don't have a will, you are creating more stress and expenses for your family. 

Almost all estates, even with a Last Will and Testament, go through probate court to distribute assets, but the process is much more complicated when someone dies without a will. By leaving a will, you allow your family to streamline the process. If you don't have one, the court is required to appoint a personal representative for the estate, which can be time-consuming, costly, and create disagreements amongst your loved ones if they disagree as to who should be appointed.

If you want to avoid probate altogether, talk to us about utilizing both a Will and a Revocable Trust (aka Living Trust). You may also enjoy this

5. Dying without a will inevitably leads to family disputes and hurt feelings. 

In most cases, families do not agree on how even the smallest of assets should be distributed. This creates friction and can cause rifts in the family dynamic for years or longer. Writing a will avoids this possibility because it makes your wishes clear.

6. You can update your will whenever you want to. 

If your life circumstances change, you can revise your will as needed. For example, if you have more children, get a divorce, or someone dies, you can change your will to reflect the evolving situation.

7. If you have pets, your will can ensure they will be taken care of after you die. 

You can leave your pet with a friend or family member, and also leave them funds to help provide for your pet.

8. You don't have to leave your property to people, you can decide to leave part of your estate to a charity. 

If you die without a will, this isn't possible. Thus, if you want to make a positive impact on the world with your assets, make sure to outline that in the legal document.

9. Even if you don't have a lot of property or money, you can use a will to help guide your loved ones in making funeral plans. 

This will help lessen any stress for them, because they can simply follow your instructions. You can detail everything from naming a funeral executor, to making requests for your final resting place.

10. In today's digital world, it's important to have a plan for your online accounts. 

Your will can name a digital executor and provide instructions on how you want your digital accounts (Facebook, email, Instagram) and property (digital photos, videos, websites) to be handled, along with passwords and login information.

It’s Never Too Early To Start Planning For The Future

Making a will provides a lot of benefits, beyond the simple distribution of assets. It will give you and your loved ones peace of mind. Consult with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney now to start the process of writing one.

Jason Neufeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elder Needs Law, a Florida estate planning and elder law firm he created in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including Medicaid planning, estate planning, elder law, probate, Medicare, and life insurance.

Jason received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami — School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Broward County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and among the Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend in 2024.

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