While there's no universal answer, one way to approach thinking about your will is by considering what will happen if you do nothing. Without a will (known as "intestacy"), your estate generally transfers to 1) your spouse 2) children by blood 3) your parents depending on the specific laws in your state. If at any step in the above process you thought "but I want to include Uncle Forrest" you should start thinking seriously about creating a will.
Guardianship of children, specific division of assets, and much more
Wills aren't just for the 1 Guardianship of children is not always automatic. If your intentions are not legally certified, then your child may end up in the limbo of state-directed foster care while decisions are sorted out with relatives! A will also gives you greater control - for instance, you may want your children to go to your sister, but if she divorces, does that change your wishes? If you pass while your children are young, do you want them to receive assets immediately or wait until a certain age? What looks simple at the surface can get complicated with different contingencies. Furthermore, if you have adopted or step-children, or want to divide assets in an unequal manner, a will is necessary to make sure your wishes are carried out.
So what will a will cost me?
Wills vary in cost based on their complexity. If you fall on the simple end of the spectrum and want to do it yourself, you can use an online service like LegalZoom for as little as $69. Cheap, huh? But LegalZoom can't do everything. Using their tool doesn't promise that you understand the full implications of your choices, and the legalese can be daunting: homestead shelters, pour-over wills, testamentary trusts, bequests, anti-lapse statutes, power of appointment, and more...
When in doubt, talk to a lawyer
Estate attorneys are transparent fonts of information. Want to discuss your estate before creating a will? Make an appointment for a free consultation. Know you want to proceed but worried about what the final bill will look like? Ask for a quote. 100% of LexSpot Estate Attorneys offer free consultations and flat fees for wills. See our Best Massachusetts Estate Attorneys here.
Figuring out what works best for your family is always personal. If you're not sure where to go next, try following the 3 simple steps in our Legal Navigator or reaching out for personal attention from our team at 1-855-539-7768.