Does everyone need a will? And if so, when is the time to get one?
"Many people think that they don't need a will ... since they don't have an 'estate,'" said certified financial planner Scott A. Bishop, partner with STA Wealth Management. "That is just wrong.
"A will is not for you, but it is for those you love and leave behind," he said. "When you die, someone has to settle your estate if you own anything."
Even for a small checking account and a car, he said, someone has to distribute the account and change title to the car. Furthermore, minus a will, someone will have to go to probate court, prove a relationship to the deceased and be assigned by a judge to serve as executor.
According to Leon LaBrecque, a CFP and managing partner and CEO of LJPR Financial Advisors, wills are essential because they direct property not covered by other means, such as beneficiary designations, trusts or properly constructed deeds.
"If you get hit by the proverbial bus, we need to take the legal proceeds and process it, and a will is almost always an essential part of that transfer," he said. "[One] should note that wills do not avoid probate but are probate instructions."
Furthermore, LaBrecque stressed that everyone should have a financial and health-care durable power of attorney.