Stephen M. Bingman, Attorney
Providing Spartanburg Attorney Services since 1983
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Copyright Stephen M. Bingman, Attorney
The answer depends on your situation.
1. If you have minor children, the answer is yes. You definitely need a Last Will and Testament. There are two reasons: first for your children's benefit and second for your Spouse's and your own benefit.
A Last Will and Testament is the only way, if you die, that you can say (1) who will raise your child(ren) and (2) who will take care of property left to your child(ren). Are there family members or friends that you want to raise your child? Are there family members that you do not want to raise your child? It sounds crazy to say, but after you die, you cannot say who you want to raise your children. You must say it before you die and the only way to say it and have it legally enforceable is to make a Last Will and Testament. Without a Last Will and Testament, a Court - a complete stranger - will say who will raise your children. Don't let that happen.
If you die, will your children inherit money or other property? Do you have life insurance that will be paid to them? If yes to either question, you need a Last Will and Testament to say who will take care of the money and other property for your children and how the money or property can be used. Minor children cannot hold money and property. A Trustee must hold it for them until your children reach an age set by state law (normally 18) or an age set by you in your Last Will and Testament. Also, unless your Last Will and Testament says differently, state law will say how the money or property is to be used. Are there family members or friends that you trust? Or don't trust? Do you care how the money or property is used? The only way for you to say (1) who will take care of the money or property for your children and (2) how the money or property is to be used is to say it in a Last Will and Testament before you die.
You need to make your Last Will And Testament for your children's sake, but you also need a Last Will and Testament for your and your Spouse's benefit. Most states have laws which give property to both a Spouse and children if someone who dies does not have a Last Will and Testament. To protect a minor child's interest in property, most states also have laws that require Court approval before the property can be either sold or mortgaged. This can affect you. If you need to sell the property or get a loan on the property, you will need to pay a lawyer, go to Court, and get the Court's approval. You will then need to account to the Court each year for the money that your child receives. A Last Will and Testament giving all property to your Spouse or authorizing your Spouse to sell or mortgage property will eliminate this problem.
2. If you own property, you probably need a Last Will And Testament.
Your Last Will And Testament is the only way you can say who is to receive your property after your death. If you want to leave certain property to certain people, you need a Last Will and Testament. But, beware that state laws may affect your Last Will And Testament and who receives your property. For example, South Carolina has a law which says that money in bank accounts (checking, savings, etc.) with two or more names on the account is deemed to pass to the survivor(s) should one account holder die. The surviving account holder(s) gets the money regardless of who you name to receive the money in your Last Will And Testament. This is not true about all of your property, so you need to make a Last Will and Testament and put your wishes and desires in writing so that people will know what you want.
3. If you do not own property and you do not have minor children, you may still want to make a Last Will And Testament.
The main reason for making a Last Will and Testament is to say who you want to receive your property and who you want to raise your children if you die. If you do not own property and you do not have minor children, you may still want to make a Last Will and Testament in case you have property or children in the future.
Also, if you have unique desires or wishes in the event of your death, you may want to make a Last Will and Testament and state your wishes and desires in it. Some desires such as wanting to be cremated, have a certain type of funeral, or being buried in a certain place can be stated in your Last Will and Testament. However, your funeral could take place before your Last Will and Testament is read. Therefore, it is best to tell your family and/or close friends of your desires as well as stating them in your Last Will and Testament.
We are not promised tomorrow.
We are not even promised the next minute. You are wise to think about a Last Will and Testament If you feel that you need to make a Last Will and Testament, then make it now. Don't wait. After you make your Last Will and Testament, you will feel a real sense of peace of mind.
All information on this web site is general information and not legal advice. Legal advice is based on the specific facts and circumstances of a matter and, of course, The Bingman Law Firm does not know your specific facts or circumstances. Further, nothing contained in this web site is to be interpreted as creating an attorney - client relationship. No such relationship can or will exist until Attorney Stephen M. Bingman has personally agreed to such a relationship. Should you have any questions of any nature whatsoever concerning information contained in this web site, contact Attorney Stephen M. Bingman or another licensed attorney.
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Copyright ©2007 Stephen M. Bingman. All rights reserved.
Stephen M. Bingman is a Spartanburg lawyer focused on real estate, Wills, and small business corporations.