If you ask anybody “do you need to have a will” and you’ll almost always get 1 of 2 answers: Either “Absolutely” or “I don’t have anything really”. But here’s the kicker – EVERYBODY needs a will. Here’s 3 quick reasons why:
- Most people assume if you die married (with or without kids), your spouse gets everything. That’s WRONG! NCGS 29-14 sets out who gets your estate if you don’t have a will:
- If you have 1 kid: Spouse gets half of any real estate, kid gets half. For personal property, Spouse gets $60k+half of whatever is left; kid gets half after the Spouse.
- If you have 2+ kids: Spouse gets 1/3 of any real estate, kids split 2/3. For personal property, Spouse gets $60k+1/3 of whatever is left; kids split 2/3rds after the Spouse.
- If you have NO kids, but your parent(s) are alive: Spouse gets half of any real estate, parents get half. For personal property, Spouse gets $100k+half of whatever is left; parents gets half after the Spouse.
- ONLY if you have no kids, grandkids, or parents does your spouse get 100%.
- Also, for a-c above, if you have a child who has passed but they left behind children, they share in the estate as well. So grandchildren and children take – against the spouse, and REGARDLESS of how old they are.
- If you die without a will, the probate process will take even longer, because you have to notify all potential heirs (outlined above) as part of the process (whether they want to be involved or not), and if they are minors, their parents or guardians have to be involved from start to finish. However, if you have a will, the named executor can go ahead and apply for probate and the only people who have to be notified are the people named in the will who are beneficiaries. There’s even special probate proceedings for small estates where the spouse is the sole beneficiary!
- But I don’t have anything right now? But what if you inherit something, or there’s life insurance from your job, or you DO acquire something before death? The will not only takes care of the property you have now, but property you may have in the future!
As you can tell, having a will is important! If you want to talk to one of our team about setting up your estate plan, contact us and we’ll set you up with a FREE consultation. We can meet with you via zoom, phone or in-person to discuss your estate planning needs. And be on the lookout for part 2 of our series, What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will, where we’ll talk more about a few main reasons the probate is more complicated when you don’t have a will.