moms.com recently published an article, “What Actually Happens If You Die Without A Will,” noting that we're all going to die one day and we should all prepare for it as much as possible.
Estate planning is also very important for parents of minor children. By creating a will, you can make certain that your children are taken care of and that your estate is managed according to your wishes, after you're gone.
Many parents put this task off, and it’s certainly understandable.
Who wants to plan for their own death?
However, we should do what needs to be done to make sure our family and children aren't left to deal with more stress and fighting when we die.
A will is a legal, binding document that provides instructions regarding how you want your estate to be handled after you die. It can also address the care and guardianship of your minor children, if both parents are deceased or one is unable or unwilling to take guardianship of them. You can also include your final wishes for funeral arrangements.
If you die without a will (intestate), then the assets in your estate (possessions, savings, retirement funds and any property you own) will be divided among your living beneficiaries. Without a will, the estate is divided up according to state probate law.
With a will, you can be certain that your specific wishes are honored after your death. For instance, if you have a common-law spouse, you can ensure they get whatever you want them to have. Some states and cities don’t give common-law spouses estate rights. Your will can help you distinguish between biological or step-children, or minor or adult children.
It is important that a will can establish guardianship of your children, in the event of the death of both parents (or an inability or unwillingness of a living parent to take guardianship). Without a will that discusses guardianship for your children, a judge will make the decision, locating and screening potential guardians. This could take weeks or months, and may not be the person who you want raising your children.
How you select a guardian is very personal. Some parents choose a close family member, like a sister or their parents, and others choose close friends or godparents. To be certain that your wishes are honored as to guardianship (and managing your children's finances), they must be detailed in a legally binding will. These issues are much too important to be left to chance.
Reference: moms.com (November 26, 2018) “What Actually Happens If You Die Without A Will”