The answer to that question involves knowing the law so that you know who will inherit your belongings if you die without a will. The legal term for someone who dies without a will is that the individual is “intestate.”
If you don’t have much for anyone to inherit, then you may not need a will. If you are married and die intestate, often your spouse will inherit everything that you leave behind. If you are divorced or otherwise single and have children, then your children will inherit what you have in equal shares.
You can disinherit your children and other descendants if that is what you want to do. There is only one person who you cannot disinherit, and that is your spouse. If you are married, the only way you can cut your spouse out of what you own when you die is with a written agreement, a Pre-Nuptial Agreement. This agreement will provide for the spouse not to inherit anything, or to inherit only limited items.
Some of the information that goes into a will is as follows:
--The name of your personal representative. This is the person who makes sure that what you have provided in the will is what actually happens. If possible, it is good to have the personal representative be younger than the individual who is making the will, so that there is a fair chance the person who is the personal representative will still be alive when the person making the will dies.
--If the individual has minor children, the names of the people who would have guardianship of the children, if both parents were deceased.
--The names of the individuals who are to inherit from you and what they are receiving.
--If there is to be a trust, instructions for the trust, including who is to be the trustee, what is to go into trust and the beneficiaries (recipients) of the trust. Sometimes, the distributions to the beneficiaries are made upon a beneficiary turning a certain age. For example, the trust might provide that the trust principal will be distributed when the youngest beneficiary reaches the age of 30.
If you are thinking of finding out whether or not you need a will, you can ask any attorney who deals with wills and other probate matters.