As we get older, we hear about the importance of having a last will and testament. We hear that it is a mistake to allow the court or government to decide what happens to our assets. In the vast majority of situations, it actually is a mistake to leave your assets to chance. This is especially true if you have assets to disperse to various heirs and family members, but that is not always the case.
First, what if you do not have assets?
It is important to understand that if you have no assets, but you have debt such as credit cards, mortgage, car loan, personal loan, etc., your family will not assume the debt. This unsecured debt will be forgiven upon your demise.
Your family will not be responsible for resolving your debt.
If you do have assets and you have heirs and/or family
If you have assets and debt, your assets will have to be used to resolve the debt before the assets are dispersed. If you leave behind the cash to do this, it is very simple; the cash is used to pay off the debts, and the remainder of the assets are dispersed.
However, if you do not have the liquid cash, assets will need to be sold to offset the debts. That is simple enough, but what if one asset is left to multiple heirs (property is a common example). For example, if you and our sibling are left a plot of land and your parent has debt. You and your sibling must sell all or part of that plot of land to resolve the debt. It gets even more complex if you want to sell your share, and your sibling does not, but that is for another time.
If you do not have heirs or family and you have assets
You are free to do whatever you want with your assets. If you want the courts and/or government to allocate or absorb your assets after death, simply do not create a will. However, there are more options if you have assets and no family or heirs. Example options include:
- Donating your assets to charity;
- Liquidating your assets before death and donating your cash to charity;
- Leave your assets to a friend or someone else important in your life;
- Use your assets to create a trust for eligible stranger’s tuition or medical bills;
You can even leave your assets to your pet(s). However, you need to have a will in place to do these things. Without a will, friends, or anyone else to assume your assets, the assets may not be allocated in a way you agree with.
It is not too late to plan the future of your estate. Creating a last will and testament does not have to be an arduous process. If you do not have a will, you need the services of an experienced, licensed attorney. Dsouza and Strachan Legal Group has the knowledge and experience to get the future of your assets and family set in stone. Contact Dsouza and Strachan today for a free consultation.