Why You Should Have a Will

By Attorney Gregory R. Bell

There are many reasons why a person should have a will; it is arguably one of the most important things you can do for your family. While by no means an exhaustive list, here are just a few of the benefits:

You decide how your estate will be distributed. If you do not determine through a will who will inherit your estate, the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts make that determination for you through the laws of intestacy (passing having no will). Given that alternative, almost everyone would want to make that decision for themselves and not leave it to the state.

You can decide the personal representative who will administer your estate. You can pick the person you trust to administer your estate, as well as choose an alternate if for any reason your first choice is unable to fulfill that role. And you can give this person expanded powers in the will that make it easier to administer the estate than it would be through the probate process without a will.

You decide who will be guardian of your minor children. If you have minor children, this is a huge decision. You can name who will be the guardian and raise your kids, as well as make sure that guardianship does not go to someone whom you do not want to raise them.

You can disinherit anyone you decide you do not want to share in your estate. For his/her own reasons, an individual may decide to leave nothing or a limited value to a relative that, without a will, might inherit much more. When you create a will, you are making this decision rather than leaving it to the state.

Thinking about creating a will can raise uncomfortable feelings about one’s mortality. But given the many benefits of having a will, there is no good reason to wait. Being prepared ensures that your wishes will be accomplished, while also making the probate process easier for your family.

Gregory R. Bell is an attorney at Gove Law Office, LLC , a general practice law firm with offices in Northampton and Ludlow, MA. The firm handles a wide variety of legal needs, including wills and other areas of estate planning and administration. For more information, please contact the office by calling 413-583-5916 or emailing gbell@govelawoffice.com.