If you are a parent, you need to have a Will. No one wants to think about their own untimely death; however, failing to protect your family is an even-worse thought. You want to make sure that your decisions for your own family are preserved in the event of your death.
Why You Need a Will
A Last Will & Testament (“Will”) is a formal legal document that details your plans for your children and your property after your death. There is no minimum financial requirement needed to make a Will. I strongly recommend that every parent with minor children, no matter your financial situation, should make a Last Will & Testament.
Chief among the choices that you get to make in your Will are:
- You select your own personal representative;
- You decide precisely how your assets are divided and who gets what;
- You pick the Legal Guardian for your children; and
- You can create a Trust for the benefit of your minor children and name the Trustee.
Consider what would happen if both you and your co-parent die, and you leave behind a young child. If you had a Will, your express wishes would be followed. Without a Will, no one will have the benefit of your insight into who should raise your child or how to use your property for the benefit of your child. As a parent, you want to make these important choices for your children. Having a Will is the best way to protect your good intentions.
So, what happens if you die without having a Will? Unfortunately, the court system will make these important decisions in your place. As a result, the court system may not select the same individuals that you would have selected to raise your children or to handle your estate. If you have a Will in place, you – rather than the judge and the court system – make the decisions.
Creating a Will
Connecticut has specific legal requirements to prepare a valid Will:
- You must be over 18 years-old;
- You must be capable of making decisions (“sound mind”);
- Your Will must be in writing;
- You must sign your Will in front of two impartial witnesses; and
- The two witnesses must declare in writing that they know who you are, that they observed you sign the Will, and that you acknowledged that you were signing the Will.
If your Last Will & Testament satisfies these requirements, then it is presumed to be valid in Probate Court.
Your Will becomes legally binding only upon your death. Until then, you can change its terms at any time. If you have a new marriage, or adopt a child, or have a falling-out with a nephew, you can change who gets what. You can add to it, delete things from it, or make any other changes that you would like. You can even make a completely new Will to reflect new changes and circumstances in your life.
You must protect your spouse and your children in the event of your death. The best way that you can do so is to create a Will.