A Will is your opportunity to decide how you want to distribute your property after your death. Without a Will your property accumulated during your lifetime will be transferred according to a statutory scheme (the laws of intestacy) that may be inconsistent with your wishes. A Will is particularly important in the following circumstances:
To ensure that bequests made to your minor or adult children are held in trust until the appropriate age, which you decide. Without a Will, your children will receive their statutory share of your estate at age 18, with no restrictions or supervision. Also, with a Will you have an opportunity to select the person you want to serve as the Guardian for your minor children.
To protect a disabled child or loved one by leaving a bequest in a Special Needs Trust. This type of trust will allow the disabled beneficiary to preserve eligibility for government benefits such as Medicaid and SSI and still benefit from the assets in the Special Needs Trust.
To avoid paying unnecessary estate taxes. Married couples with a total estate above one million dollars should consider including provisions in their Wills to maximize their protection from estate taxes.
To protect your current spouse in a second marriage and your children from an earlier marriage. Second marriages can complicate your estate planning. It is important to decide how you want to provide for your current spouse and other family members and then specify those wishes in your Will.