Do I need a will?

In the course of a rambling family conversation yesterday my mother asked if I had a will, and when I said “no” she said that I should. I’ve been thinking about it, though, and I don’t think I need one. Here are my circumstances:[ul][li]I’m single, no children, never married.[/li][li]I don’t own any property, or anything of significant value.[/li][li]I have no savings to speak of.[/li][li]I have credit card debt and a car loan, both of which will die with me since I have no estate.[/li][li]My only asset is a 401(k), which isn’t affected by intestate succession laws and will go directly to the named beneficiary.[/ul]There’s nothing in my house that I want to leave to anyone specific, and if I die before my dog does I know that my ex-bf will take her. I can’t think of one good reason why I should bother making a will. [/li]
P.S. I’m not asking for legal advice, you are not my lawyer, etc.

Everybody needs a will is something a whole lot of people say. It isn’t true and maybe you don’t need one right now.

It’s good to have one in place so you don’t have to write one later.You may be poor now, but what about in 5 years time? 10? Are you expecting to inherit anything of any significance (not just money)? It’s also a way of showing people you care about them: “To my great friend Joe Bloggs, I leave my collection of thingumajigs…”

More immediately, you mention your dog as your one dependent. How will your ex-bf know to take her? Imagine he’s 1000 miles away. But if it’s in your will that you ask him to take her, your executors will have to contact him. Just because your ex-bf lives around the corner right now doesn’t mean that will be the case next year.

If it’s all written down in a will, you don’t have to worry about it.

There may be some considerations other than ‘‘stuff’’ e.g. who has the permission to ''pull the plug" (or refuse) If you are in a coma or vegetative state?

In our state there are elaborate forms relating to these issues. My will is almost an afterthought tagged onto the ending of life forms.

Do I bury you or donate you to science? Is that sweater you always wore special to you? What debts are you leaving behind if any? You used to talk about Abercrombie Fafufnik a lot - was he someone special I should recognize? Did you have a favorite charity? When you kick off someone is going to have these questions and a thousand others.

It makes it easier on whoever cleans up after you are gone and will make your relatives a little happier maybe. When my BIL died, part of the anguish was that we didn’t know what (or who) was important to him. If he had left a simple will, as you could, saying “nothing is special to me and no one person stands out from the rest” it could be a real help.

Now a Living Will ----- that is more vital. But also a lot more personal (I am guessing) in your case.

It would certainly make things easier for me to take that Datsun out of your cold dead hand.

Unless it’s the instrument of your demise. In which case, nevermind. :stuck_out_tongue:

If/when my circumstances change I’ll have to amend any existing will anyway, right? So why bother making one now?

(I’m not poor, btw: I just have no savings. Yes, there’s a difference.)

I don’t think that’s worth preparing a will for. The people I care about don’t need to be given a TV or a crystal collection to know that I cared about them.

He will know because I have left instructions to that effect (with him, my family, my best friends, my vet, and my dog’s daycare facility).

That’s a living will/advance directive, which is different from what I’m talking about.

I’ve already told my family that I don’t care.

Why would this matter once I’m dead?

They die with me.

If so, wouldn’t I have prepared a will that mentions him?

Why would this matter once I’m dead?

My mother’s will doesn’t cover any of the above: all it does is name an executor and the inheritors of her estate. I have no estate. What you seem to be talking about is funeral planning, which is different.

I will make sure I die before the Z is paid off. :stuck_out_tongue:

For whatever it’s worth, I didn’t have a will until I was married with a child on the way. Maybe I should have had one a little sooner but that’s what happened.

OP, I’m pretty much in your situation; my retirement fund is my only large asset and has the named beneficiary.

You may want to think about putting someone on your bank account who it will go to if you die. It will allow them to pay any incidentals and keep the rest. (Not power of attorney to use the account, but actually the owner of the funds.)

I am going to shill for Quicken Willmaker here. $50, and contains all the documents you could need, including several you wouldn’t have thought of. Has all the docs for medical power of attorney and power of attorney.

It walks you through it all and has a lot of things that you may have missed, such as a list of people your executor should invite to the funeral (sometimes all your friends do not know each other) or notify of your death, a place to list accounts and passwords and what you want done with your social media accounts, and what you want done with your body.

Even if there is not a lot, the more you take care of now, the less the person who is handling this (who is likely distraught at your passing) has to do. This is a way to make things easier for them and is cheap.

Oh, and you can use it for as many people as you want, so you can help parents and siblings at the same time. Since you have all the docs, you can easily update it whenever you want.

I did this for my mom an myself recently and highly recommend.

Just realized that I forgot to thank everyone who has replied so far! :slight_smile: When I’m questioning you guys I’m not being stubborn (well…much), I’m just trying to think it through and determine whether there’s truly any need for me to have a legal will at this point.

I thought of a couple of specific questions:

Say I die intestate with $10,000 in the bank and $20,000 of debt. Does the money in the bank automatically go to those debts, with the remaining debt wiped out?

Now say I die with the same $10K in my account and $20K of debt, but I have a will stating that anything in my bank account at the time of my death goes to my brother. Does all of the money in the bank go to him, and the full debt gets wiped out?

The kid thing won’t be happening (I’m 43). I like to think that the marriage thing might still happen, though, at which point I most likely would prepare some kind of will.

Interesting thought. Is that something I could direct in a will, instead of having to give someone co-ownership of my accounts now?

I am strictly talking about a will here: not POAs, advance directives, funeral planning, etc. Much of what you’ve mentioned I’ve already done: basic funeral planning (with copies disseminated to immediate family), password gathering, etc.

With a will or without, the $10k gets put towards the debt, and the creditor takes a loss on the remaining $10k. Your brother and all other heirs are shit out of luck.

When you die, everything you own goes into your estate. The estate is then divided up, in accordance with your will if you have one, and by the intestate succession laws of your state if you do not. But either way, creditors who you owe a legal debt to get first crack at the estate. Whatever is left is then divided up according to the will or state law. So no, writing a will doesn’t some how protect your money from going towards your legitimate debts.

Write a holographic will. In most states (ianal, ymmv) this just is a 100% handwritten will that sez “Last Will” “All my stuff to DrDeth”. Signed, dated.

Ok, so there goes that possible reason for needing to have a will right now. Thanks!

If I ever have anything to leave you, I might just do that. :wink:

Slight hijack. My brother died without a will and $60K in credit card debt. He had a house that was paid off, free and clear. The lawyer was able to settle with creditors (as in, the debts were wiped off) and since the house was under a certain value, we didn’t have to go to probate. The lawyer worked with the title company. Now the estate is closed and any creditors who come looking for my sister or me are SOL.

yeah, handwritten wills are good in many places. two witnesses who get no benefit might be needed. the last will done is the one that matters.

Thanks for the story, peedin – though if I had a house that was paid off, I’d definitely have a will! :slight_smile:

That’s true in Virginia (I looked up the code this morning). There are also provisions for cases without two disinterested witnesses, but it seems like the bottom line is there has to be at least one person able to prove (swear?) that it was my handwriting and my signature.

I like the holographic will idea (for someday…).

A will won’t make much difference if you have an insolvent estate. In Virginia, what would happen is that that someone might qualify on your estate, and then after a period of time would have a debts and demands hearing. A report would be issued to the Court directing that your debts and any administration and funeral costs be paid. Your creditors probably wouldn’t see much of the $10,000.00.

So, it’s not really co-ownership – my father can’t access my money till I’m dead. My account is named

I/T/F gigi’s father

and vice versa for his. It was one measure he took to make sure all is in place and we hopefully won’t need to go to probate.

<< “ITF” in banking stands for “in trust for.” It means that the owner of the account is acting as the trustee of the funds, which transfer to the beneficiary of the account when the owner dies.

“In Trust For” accounts are a method for someone to ensure that the funds in his bank account transfer to someone else with little difficulty if he passes away. The owner of the account retains control of the funds as long as he lives and is permitted to make changes at any point. Banks in some states prefer to use the “payable on death” designation, which also pays the balance of the account to one or more beneficiaries when the account owner passes away. >>

You know, gigi, that’s starting to sound familiar…a few years ago my mother got very sick and I temporarily took control of her finances, and I seem to recall her credit union having some kind of “payable on death” option. IIRC each account could be designated for a different person. I’ll have to look into that; thanks!