Do I need a will?

If you and your bride are just starting on the path to financial bliss, you may not yet need a will. Most states pass along the estates of the deceased to their spouses automatically, especially when the deceased owned few assets.

As you build wealth throughout your lives and you experience some key life events, your will becomes more essential. Writing a will removes a major burden from your bride, and honors commitments you made in life. Experts suggest writing or revising your will when you experience one of these life events:

You have children.
Although most probate courts will pass the possessions of deceased parents directly to children, you should consider drafting instructions for their care in case you and your bride both die at the same time. Without clear direction, your children could wind up in foster care, or in the home of an incompetent or uncaring relative.

One of you has children from a prior marriage.
If you have assets that you want to pass directly to your older children, many lawyers recommend setting up a trust to manage that transition. You can even name your bride the trustee. If you survived a bitter divorce and your kids prefer to remain with your bride, a custody clause in your will can prevent years of legal wrangling.

You decide to support a charity.
You can make sure that your bride and your children honor your commitments to social causes and non-profit organizations by directly naming those beneficiaries in your will. You can even ease your bride’s burden by suggesting appropriate memorials or other remembrances.

You decide to support a family member.
If you intended to support your parents through retirement or if you care for another family member with special needs, you can dictate how your assets can be used to sustain those arrangements.

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