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5 Reasons You Need a Will (Even if You are Under 40)

January 29, 2013

ben franklin)

A will is a curious thing. It’s practically meaningless for legal purposes while you are alive; when you die it’s really the only thing that has any legal validity. To quote Benjamin Franklin; “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” When you discuss Wills, you have to discuss dying. Not a cheery subject, but a necessary one.

So, dear reader, let’s be frank, you are going to die; Hopefully, not for many years, but nonetheless, at some time. If this doesn’t apply to you stop reading here. But if it does apply, here are five reasons why you need to have a will.

1. Kids- If you have kids and they are minors when you die, someone will have to take custody. You want this to be someone that you designate, not someone that the court designates. If the custodians are named in your will, your children will be in the custody of the person(s) of your choosing. If you have no Will, then some judge will decide.

2. Assets- if you have assets, you want them to go to the beneficiaries that you choose. If you die without a Will, the law will decide who gets your assets. You might be very unhappy with who the state chooses.

3. Estate Taxes- If you have sizable assets, for simplicity let’s say 2 or so million or more (remember the Federal government and some of the States impose Estate taxes) a Will is the best way to make sure your heirs get the largest percentage of your assets. There are other ways to avoid Estate taxes, but a well-drafted Will is part of virtually all Estate planning.

4. Life Insurance- Let’s say you have no minor kids and your assets are minimal, you don’t need to worry about Estate taxes, right? No, if you have a significant life insurance policy. If your life insurance exceeds a certain dollar amount, some of the proceeds will be taxed.

5. Your Body- You have no kids, assets, life insurance. Do you want to decide how your body is treated when you die? Do you want to be buried , or maybe cremated with your ashes spread on the beaches of California (ala Donnie in The Big Lebowski). Your Will can let the world know your preference.

Avrum Aaron,  a 1994 graduate of Columbia Law School, is the COO of Legal Outsourcing Partners, LLC. He can be reached at avrum@lop-llc.com.

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2 Comments
  1. J. Marcus permalink

    Your writing is clear and not packed full of “legalese” so any layman can really understand the issues. Very helpful.

  2. Cindy Squier permalink

    I am a member of the Editorial Board of NALS . . . the association for legal professionals. I found your article, 5 Reasons You Need a Will (Even if You are Under 40), to be very interesting. This topic would be a perfect fit for the Fall issue of @Law, the NALS Magazine for Legal Professionals. The @Law is a quarterly print publication with a distribution of 5,000 nationwide. @Law articles should be 2,000 words or less and submitted in Word format. The submission deadline for the Fall issue is June 1. Would you be interested in this opportunity?

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