Most people have heard it is in their interest to establish a will and/or trust.  These important legal documents set the stage for your loved ones to receive the money, real estate and other assets they need when you pass away.  Think of your will or trust as an opportunity to control your assets rather than letting the government distribute your hard-earned belongings on your behalf.  Let’s take a closer look at what happens when you lack a will or trust and how you can take control over the fate of your assets. 

Your Estate Enters the Probate Process

If you do not have a will or trust, the destination of your assets will be determined by the laws of intestate succession during the probate process.  There is no guarantee this process will ensure the fair distribution of your assets.  This is precisely why it is so important to establish a will or trust.  

Many people create revocable living trusts to avoid the probate process. However, it is recommended that clients with revocable living trusts also create a “pour-over will” to include assets that may not have been included in the trust. If these assets are low enough in value, the estate mayl not need to go through probate.

Guardianship for Minor Children is at Stake

Wills are also important in the context of parenting minor children.  Fail to establish a will, and the guardianship of your minor children will be determined by the court.  Though some judges can be trusted to collect and review information about the children and family circumstances, the bottom line is they do not have the same insight into your family as you do.  There is no sense running the risk that the court will choose the right guardian for your minor children when you can be proactive and ensure your kids are properly cared for by establishing a will.

The will is the main legal instrument used to name the guardian for all of your minor children in the event that you pass away.  Furthermore, a will empowers you to establish additional protections for your minor children after you die.  

Wills and Trusts Give You Control

Wills and trusts are legal tools designed to empower individuals to dictate the manner in which their possessions are passed on to family, friends, good causes and other parties.  There is no sense letting generic laws determine how your assets will be distributed when you can make those decisions on your own. North Carolina intestacy laws may not allocate property in accordance with your wishes. 

Your will and trust serve as your voice after you pass away.  Fail to take advantage of these legal tools and you will cede control over your assets to the state and increase the opportunity for uncertainty. If you do not have a will or trust or if you have not updated these legal documents in years, it is time to be proactive.  Our legal team is here to help ensure you have all of your affairs in order.  Contact us today for assistance with your will or learn how a revocable living trust could help your loved ones avoid the probate process.