Do I Need A Will?

This is part of Cake's collection of estate planning articles. Create a Cake profile for free to discover, document, and share your end-of-life wishes.

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While we can’t definitively answer this for everyone, we can say that wills are immensely important if you are married, have children, or have large assets like property or a sizeable bank account. Furthermore, if you anticipate conflict among your family when your estate needs to be divided, you’ll definitely want to consider one! No one wants their legacy to be one of bickering and division. To that end, a will helps to keep the peace and ensures the right people get your inheritance.

Even if you don't have a large number of assets or property to bestow,  a simple online will can still be very helpful to your family. 

Why should I make a will?

Wills are important documents to guarantee your property and assets are distributed how you wish. If you live in multiple states, have children from different marriages, or have any net positive wealth, creating a will can help make things easier on the people you leave behind and ensure your wishes are honored.  

Maintaining a will ensures that the guardianship of minor children is taken care of in case of your unexpected death. You can even make provisions for your pet after you die. Straightforward directions and legally binding decisions can remove a lot of stress for your loved ones and make wrapping up your final affairs that much easier.

Who Should Strongly Consider a Will?

  • Parents, anyone who is a guardian, or has dependents including pets
  • Property owners and not just land but any assets
  • Individuals with sizeable assets and wishes for how they should be divided after their death

What happens if I don’t have a will?

If you don’t write a will or do any estate planning, you can leave your family in a lurch dealing with state laws and probate court. The problem with allowing your estate to go through probate is the process can be costly and drawn out. It is generally more cost effective for your heirs if you create a will. 

  • Probate Court costs may significantly reduce the remaining amount of your estate
  • Clearly-worded wills can help minimize the bickering over your belongings — because sometimes everyone wants the collectibles.

Another issue worth mentioning, if you don’t create a will and family disputes erupt over your estate on who gets what, it could lead to lifelong animosity between your loved ones. Leaving a will is a gift to those you care about. It allows for an easier transition of your assets to your family and friends. Sign up for a free Cake account, where you can store all of your end-of life-planning documents, including your will, in one place for free.

Where to get a will

  • Work with an estate attorney: Typical fees for a will range from $500-1000.  A good estate attorney will look for ways to reduce the tax burden on your heirs and ensure your will is legally enforceable. Depending on the size and complexity of your estate, they may advise you to create a trust to provide additional tax benefits. Most people find their estate attorney through word of mouth, Google/Yelp reviews, or a referral from their employer (employee assistance programs).  Don't just take the first referral that comes your way. Ask questions to make sure it will be a good fit for you. Some attorneys may even offer a free phone chat or meet and greet in advance of working together. 

  • Create a will online: While working with an estate attorney is advisable, there are many free and paid online will tools you can choose from if you're not able to afford an attorney at this time. A simple online will is better than nothing at all.

Unsure of whether or not an estate attorney or a DIY online will is right for your situation? Check out Online Wills: Should I Even Bother.