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70% of Americans Die Without a Will

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Most people should have a will. Wills can distribute your property, name an executor, name guardians for children, forgive debts and more. Having a will also means that you, rather than your state’s laws, decide who gets your property when you die. .

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When you die without a will or other estate plan, state laws known as “intestate succession laws” decide which family members will inherit your estate and in what proportion. In most states, your spouse, children, or parents take priority under intestate succession.

Most people want to distribute their property differently than the state would distribute it. For example, many people want to leave gifts to friends, neighbors, girlfriends, boyfriends, schools, or charitable organizations – and intestate succession does not allow for any of that.

If you want other people or organizations to inherit some of your property, or if you want to decide the proportions of your gifts, a will can make sure your wishes are followed.

Emotional State of Family Members

The division of an estate after death comes with many emotions. The slightest differences can result in hurt feeling and recriminations. As divorce becomes more complex and blended families more common, dividing assets has become even more complicated.

A will that clearly lays out your wishes may reduce conflict and speculation over what you “would have” wanted. Without a will or other plan, your property would be divided between them according to state law – this could produce an uncomfortable result as well as speculation about what you would have wanted.

Making a plan can give you peace of mind and prevent your family from fighting over your possessions.

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