Just married, no kids–do we need a will?

You just got married and have no children, either together or from a previous relationship.  Do you need a will?  It depends…

If you die without a will then you died “intestate.” In Ohio, as with other states, there are statutes spelling out who gets what if someone dies intestate.  Here, a spouse would inherit everything of the deceased spouse if there were no kids.  (This does not mean there would not be probate–unless you title assets in certain ways, or set up a trust, there might be a need to probate assets.)

If you want your spouse to get everything anyway, perhaps there is no need for a will.  If you want to leave some jewelry to your sister and trinkets for your niece, not to mention a donation to your church or dog shelter, then having a simple will prepared is advised.

Once you have a child, it is imperative to prepare a will so you can nominate people you trust to serve as guardian of your child.  If you don’t name someone, a court will. In my experience the court’s likely choice would not be the person the deceased would have chosen.

Takeaway: search “intestate succession statute” for your state.  See how assets are distributed if you die without a will.  These statutes basically serve as a “will” for you.  If you do not like what your state statute prescribes, have your own will prepared.

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