What is a Will and why do I need one?
It is often difficult for people to think about death, and understandably so, but in order to ensure that your loved ones are cared for after you pass away, it is important to consider drafting a will. A will is a written document, that designates guardians for minor children, names a personal representative to handle the distribution of the estate, and provides instructions for the distribution of money, assets and property. If you die without a will, those wishes may not be followed.
Many people wonder if they really need a will. They may think that they don’t have enough assets to bother with a will. However, a will is a good idea for just about everyone.
What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will in Washington? If you die intestate—that is, without a will—the state oversees the dispensation of your assets, which it will typically distribute according to a set formula. (RCW 11.04.015)
Because of the elective-share and community property provisions mentioned above, the formula often results in half of your estate going to your spouse and the other half going to your children. Such a scenario sometimes results in the sale of the family home or other assets, which can negatively affecting a surviving spouse who may have been counting on the bulk of your assets to maintain his or her standard of living.
Further complications may ensue if your children are minors. With a will you can name the person whom you feel most comfortable serving as your child’s guardian. Without a will, the court will appoint a guardian for you.
Therefore, if you die without a will in Washington, it is highly likely that the court will appoint a guardian for your children who you may not agree with and that your estate will be distributed in a manner you would not have approved of.