THERE’S A DECENT chance that your will won’t determine what happens to the bulk of your wealth, because the fate of many assets depends on how they’re titled and the beneficiaries named. Still, it’s crucial to have a will that spells out who should receive those assets that are subject to probate.
Without it, you will die intestate. That means the disposition of your probate assets will be determined by state law—and your assets may not be divvied up the way you would have wanted.
In your will, you should also name a personal guardian for your minor children, which will be crucial if you and your spouse die prematurely. You will likely also want to specify that your wealth should be held in trust for your children until they reach age 18, 21 and possibly later, and also name someone to manage this money. That someone doesn’t have to be your children’s personal guardian.
As your life changes, you’ll likely want to change your will. In particular, you will probably need to revise it if you marry, have children or divorce. You should also revise your will if the executor dies and possibly if one of your beneficiaries dies. Moving to a different state is another reason to revisit your will. While it may be acceptable in the new state, settling your estate could take longer. Revising your will is especially important if you’re married and move from a community property state to a common law state, or vice versa.
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