A will is something that many people do not want to think about, but it is one of the most important things you can do for your family. A good will is part of good estate planning, but a will can also stand on its own to protect your interests.
Anyone who has a family and/or property of some kind needs to have a will. If you do not have a will, then the state you live in may decide to become the executor of your estate. If you want your final wishes to be acted upon, then you need to let the world know what those wishes are by creating a legal will with your attorney.
Single parents have a tremendous responsibility, and that does not stop when they have passed on. In your will, you can make it clear who you want to have custody of your children and how you want your children cared for. If you are currently caring for a special needs or ailing family member, then your will can outline how you want that care to continue after you are gone.
When someone passes away, their estate goes through the probate process. If there is no will, then the state will start making decisions that the family may or may not agree with. When there is a will, the probate process is sped up considerably and your final wishes will be administered by the official executor of your estate.
One of the direct results of outlining your final wishes is to make sure that your property is distributed the way you want it to be. If you allow the courts to distribute your estate, it could wind up in the hands of people you would never have wanted to benefit from your life's work. But when you outline your preferences in a will, you can make sure that your estate goes only to those who you prefer.
In your will, you can determine how much of your money goes to charity and how much goes to your family. If it is a considerable sum of money, then giving part away to charity can help to lower the estate tax that your family would have to pay on your inheritance. If you allow your estate to go through probate without a will, then none of your charitable interests will benefit from your generosity.
No one can predict the future, which is exactly why you need to take care of your will today. No one is guaranteed to see the sun rise the next morning, and you need to be sure that you have taken proper care of your family if something does happen to you.
If you do not have a will, then now is the time to go get one done by your attorney. If you do have a will, then it is always good to revisit your will once a year to make sure that it reflects your current situation, and applies to all of your current interests.