What Is a Will and Why Do I Need One?
Information from an Estate Planning Lawyer
A will is an important legal document that gives instructions on how you would like your property distributed after your death. A living will specifically addresses your medical preferences if you are unable to consent. Unfortunately, more than half of all Americans will die without one, often putting their families through unnecessary stress. Maryland and Washington DC estate planning lawyer Michelle Lanchester can help you eliminate the possibility of confusion and heartache by preparing a will.
No matter what the size of your estate, every competent adult should create a will to ensure the court grants your final wishes regarding the distribution of your property. If you die without a will, the government has a default plan for you and your loved ones that can differ vastly from your own.
When you die, you leave behind an estate comprised of all the property you own. This may include:
- Bank accounts
- Real estate
- Personal property
- Stocks, IRAs, brokerage accounts, etc.
- Life insurance
What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will?
If you die without a will, Maryland or Washington DC law will determine the distribution of your assets with no regard to your wishes. Taking advantage of estate planning tools and learning how to write a will can help you avoid this situation.
Why Do I Need A Will? What is a Living Will?
According to a will lawyer, there are a number of reasons to why all legally competent adults should have a will:
- A will gives you sole discretion over the distribution of your assets. Without a will, your property will pass down according to DC intestacy or Maryland intestacy law without any regard to circumstances. The law decides the distribution and can leave cherished relatives and unmarried partners with nothing if you do not have a will.
- A will allows you to name your personal representative (also called an executor) to carry out your wishes.
- A will allows you to choose a method of property distribution. You can grant property outright or place it in a trust.
- A will allows you to name a guardian of minor children.
- A will allows you to state which loved ones receive your possessions, helping avoid further heartbreak during this difficult time.
- A will allows you to transition assets to your business assets or investments.
- A will allows you to direct assets to a charity of your choice.
- A will, properly filed in probate court, provides a statutory limitation to the amount of time creditors have to file claims against your estate.
- A living will allows you to list your desires for medical treatment if you are not capable of expressing consent.
Leave a legacy of love as your last act. Contact estate planning attorney Michelle Lanchester. She will take the time to answer your questions, get to know you and your family and help you write a will that meets your needs. With more than 25 years of expert experience in wills and estate planning, our Maryland and Washington DC estate planning lawyer will show you how to translate your depth of care for your loved ones and concern for your assets and property into an estate plan that reflects your needs.