My family has dealt with quite a few deaths over the last several months and if there is one thing that I’ve learned, it is that everyone needs a will. There’s nothing worse than family members bickering after the unexpected death of a loved one, especially when a simple piece of paper and a few hundred dollars could have prevented all of the heartache. Yes, you need a will, even if you don’t have millions in assets that need to be split up or minor children who need to be taken care of.

1. Funeral arrangements

Don’t assume that your family members know your wishes regarding your funeral and burial arrangements. One family member may think you wanted your remains cremated while another might be dead set against the idea. If you don’t make your wishes known, then it is up to your family to make these decisions for you. While this may not seem like much of an issue, it can cause a major rift in your family.

2. Asset allocation

Whether you have a $10,000 life insurance policy through your union or millions of dollars in assets, a will allows you to determine how you want these funds allocated. In addition to setting aside your asset distribution wishes in your will, make sure that you have named a beneficiary for all of your individual policies.

3. Designate an executor

According to the American Bar Association (PDF),"One of the most important decisions you'll make is picking the person (or persons or institution) to be in charge of your assets after you're gone." The bar explains that the executor is "responsible for collecting the assets of the estate, protecting the estate property, preparing an inventory of the property, paying valid claims against the estate (including taxes), representing the estate in claims against others, and, finally, distributing the estate property to the beneficiaries." This is an important role — so it's important that you designate who will be your executor, not the state.

4. Avoid costly court costs

In addition to easing stress on your family, a well-written will can save your estate thousands in court costs. Since you will have designated an executor in your will, the court system won’t have to assign an administrator to supervise the distribution of your property and other assets.  

5. Give your family peace of mind

If the previous four reasons haven’t convinced you to have a will drawn up, perhaps this final reason will. If you have a will, you are giving your family peace of mind. There’s nothing more stressful for family members than to try and figure out your final arrangements, how you would have wanted your property distributed and more while trying to grieve at the same time.

Do you have a will?

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