To answer this question, consider what will happen if you don’t have a will. Upon your death, your assets will pass by “intestate succession.” This is the scheme set out by law in the state of your residence. Probate law is very old and the laws of intestate succession are common to most all states. So, how does it work? First, if you are not married, your property goes to your living children. If you have no living children, it goes to your living parents. If you have no living parents, it goes to your brothers and sisters, and so on to the next of kin.
What if you are married? If this is your first marriage, your surviving spouse will get all of your property. What about a second or third marriage? If there are step children or children from a prior marriage this can get tricky. Your children from the prior marriage will get some of your estate.
Generally speaking, the more of an estate you have, and the more complicated your family situation, the more you need a will. Also, if you have minor children, you should definitely have a will.
Simple wills are an inexpensive, efficient, and thoughtful way to show your care and love for your descendants and those you leave behind. A properly drafted will can be flexible enough to survive most of life’s changes.
If you are going through a life change such as divorce, loss of a spouse, or inheritance, you should consult an attorney to take care of this important part of your estate plan.