Your Local Indiana Attorneys

Starting Simple: Do I Need a Will

If you don’t have a will, most states presume that you want your estate to go to your next of kin. Your next of kin is usually defined as your spouse. Therefore, all of your possessions would go to your spouse if you died without a valid will (called, “intestacy” or dying “intestate”). If you are not married, then your estate would go to your children. If you had no children, then your parents, followed by your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. would follow as beneficiaries. Finally, if you have no living relatives then your estate would go to the State. If you don’t want your estate to automatically and completely be inherited in this progression, then you should have a will. Also, if you have children it is a good idea to designate a Guardian (the person who will look after your children if you and the other parent die). If you have specific gifts, this should also be stated in a will. Finally, having a valid will shortens the time required to settle the estate and generally costs less than the fee for state involvement. Other documents, besides a will, are often included in a complete estate plan. Those can include trusts, living wills, and durable powers of attorney for healthcare. I will discuss those in future blog posts.