Do I need a will?


October 3, 2005, 08:31 PM
ok this post got me thinking.

I don't have a will (I don't own much) so what happens to all my crap if I die? Does it automatically go to next of kin? I'm single and have no kids so that would be my parents and brother.

All I have is an old crappy car, a few grand in the bank and a bunch of old guns and ammo. Do I need to draw up a will to keep the state's gruby hand off my stuff?

If so, how does one go about doing that?

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October 3, 2005, 08:48 PM
Depends on your state.

Around here the state will get most of it.
A will is the single most important document you can have.
You can do it yourself with a little guidance or have an attorney draw one up for a nominal fee.

Get one ASAP.


October 3, 2005, 09:12 PM
If you don't have a will, the relatives might have to go to court to take care of you estate, no matter how small. If it will save them that much it will be worth it.

If you get a will now and later buy a house or build up some savings, the same will can handle that too. Just list whom you want to get your estate and how it will be divided(percentage-wise). It shouldn't be too expensive.

Do it.

CZ 75 BD
October 3, 2005, 09:14 PM
What smoke said. Just because you don't have much now, doesn't mean you won't have more in future. What you do have will not revert to next of kin by itself. A small investment in a legal will is well worth the time and effort.

Good luck.

October 3, 2005, 09:56 PM
Only if you don't want the government to take it and give it to someone you really dislike.

Ala Dan
October 3, 2005, 09:58 PM
Yes, everyone needs a will~! :D In some states (mine included) the
government may step-in and take everything. :uhoh: :(

chris in va
October 3, 2005, 10:03 PM
I have a hard time bringing myself to write a will. It's just so...morbid. :(

October 3, 2005, 10:04 PM
Up here, the government decides what happens to your stuff if you have no will. I suspect any firearms would be instantly destroyed. Go talk to a lawyer. Those 'make your own kits' aren't recognised everywhere.

rust collector
October 4, 2005, 01:30 AM
Why wouldn't you take a few minutes and spend a few dollars to make sure your stuff goes where it can do the most good? Especially when you can take a couple more minutes and give someone you trust the authority to pull the plug when you can't continue to have a meaningful existence. Get a durable power of attorney for healthcare and financial matters, and a living will, and you will have done all you can to take the burden off loved ones.

I'm a lawyer, and I make a lot more money off folks who won't deal with their mortality than I make off clients who want to make sure their wishes are followed. In these parts wills, durable power of attorney and living wills for husband and wife usually run less than $250. In other places costs will vary, but you don't know until you make the call.

October 4, 2005, 08:14 AM
I have a hard time bringing myself to write a will. It's just so...morbid

Don't think of it as a document dealing with your death.....think of it as a document to take care of those that are still living and to screw the gov't before thay can screw you.


October 4, 2005, 08:55 AM
* Wills are a 'note to the probate court' - nothing more;
* Wills can be contested;
* Wills are probated and cost fees for quite some time.

* Living Trusts are NOT probated;
* Living Trust bypass the need for probate;
* You select the Successor Trustee (after you);

The better way to go is with a Living Trust and a 'pour over will' so that your assets go to whom you want after your eventual death.

October 4, 2005, 09:20 AM
One way or the other (will or living trust), TCOB, otherwise teh state gets to decide, and it's almost a lead pipe cinch they wont do it the way you'd want and they will mess with your heirs.

October 4, 2005, 09:26 AM
YES you need a will. My mother passed away last year and thought that everything was taken care of, but her will wasn't witnessed properly, so legally she died 'intestate'. It made dealing with everything ten times harder than if she'd had the will.

Do you have minor children? If both parents die those kids will end up in foster care (at least initially) unless you specify who gets them.

October 4, 2005, 09:36 AM
+1 what Captain mike said!!

October 4, 2005, 09:48 AM
The one point that I took out of my now-long-forgotten Willsna and Trusts class in law school is that every person should have a will, a durable power of attorney, and a health care power of attorney. Will is self-explanatory. Durable POwer of Attorney will allow a trusted person to take care of your finances, etc., in the event you become incapacitated. Health Care Power of Attorney (living will) will explain your wishes with respect to health care, and designate who can/should make medical decisions if you can't speak for yourself.

I had a friend do all three for my parents, and then used all three six months later when my father had brain surgery, followed by a stroke-induced coma, followed by his death. Mom was able to take care of all the finances during that two months, we made the decision to stop life prolonging measures without legal problems, and the will was probated quickly.

Get them. AS morbid as it seems. I looked at it as insuring that my guns went to my sons (with two exceptions that are private), and that they were well taken care of until the boys are old enough to have them without need for supervision.

October 4, 2005, 10:32 AM
"* Wills are a 'note to the probate court' - nothing more;

NONSENSE. A duly prepared and executed will gets full enforcement from the court, once it is filed and the account prepared.

"* Wills can be contested;"

And trusts can be challenged. What's your point?

"* Wills are probated and cost fees for quite some time."

As opposed to the quick, simple and inexpensive expedient of dying intestate?

"Living Trusts" serve a purpose, but they are not the panacea promoted by some on this board. Such trusts still need to be established and those quickie kits peddled in seminars or stationery stores may not hack it - especially if those preparing them botch it.

Note also that anything put INTO such a trust requires the assent of the trustee(s) to remove FROM the trust. This is additional work, requires more filings and is a nuisance for assets that may be liquidated often, such as stocks, bonds, or cars. It also means that much more paperwork when buying and selling a home in such a trust.

Then again, people seeking competent legal counsel from anonymous internet chat rooms are probably not the type to consider all those ramifications. :uhoh:

October 4, 2005, 10:42 AM
Yes, you need a will, ideally. If you die 'intestate' (without a will), then there are still rules of succession, which vary depending on the state, but are usually spouse first, then kids if no spouse, then parents if no kids, then siblings if no parents, etc. Havin a Will ensures that they go to whom you wish, not just the person on the list, who may or may not be the person you want to have the item(s). A probate case may or may not need to be filed, will or no will, depending on whether the assets are 'titled' or not, and whether such titled assets are held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (or not). I don't play a lawyer on TV, but I am one.

PS. Trusts are WAAAAY overrated. A small minority of people may need a trust for various reasons, but the vast majority who THINK they need/want a trust do not. It's just a way for lawyers to charge more to accomplish the same result (see last sentence of preceding paragraph). A probate case is usually less expensive than sueing to force the successor trustee to do what they are supposed to do. The Will/Probate approach is the best way to do things for MOST people (in combination with a 'durable springing power of attorney' for incapacitation time periods).

October 4, 2005, 10:56 AM
Yes, have a lawyer draw up a will for you. OK, maybe (right now) your assets are not large (hopefully, that'll change as you go through life) but think of this.

You're hit by lightning. You're brain dead but your body keeps on ticking. Do you want your parents/brother to have to make the decision on their own to pull the plug or do you want clear instructions as to what you would have wanted done?

Don't put the burden and/or guilt on them. Have a lawyer in your state do a will for you. (And it's OK to ask, in advance, what the cost will be.)

October 4, 2005, 11:03 AM
"You're hit by lightning. You're brain dead but your body keeps on ticking. Do you want your parents/brother to have to make the decision on their own to pull the plug or do you want clear instructions as to what you would have wanted done?"

This poster has obviously confused a Health Care Proxy with a Will.

HINT: Wills work ONLY when you die. ;)

Prudent people have a Health Care Proxy to state WHAT they want done and WHO calls the shots AND a Durable Power of Attorney to make sure the doctors do what they're told to in the HCP.

And a will for when they die anyway....

October 4, 2005, 11:38 AM
Thanks for the advice guys! It looks like dying is a complicated PITA, just one more reason to avoid it as long as i can :)

October 4, 2005, 11:53 AM
Amen. But be prepared anyways.

Working Man
October 4, 2005, 12:02 PM
Just how do you avoid it? Many of us would like to know. :evil:

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