Is it truly necessary for us to have wills? This is a common question we receive at the Foundation.
The answer is: Yes, you need a will!
Yes, there are multiple ways to pass property to a surviving spouse, such as joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and beneficiary designations. Nevertheless, everyone should have a will for the following six reasons:
1. There likely are items of personal property — jewelry, collections, household items, etc. — that you and your spouse own individually and that are not governed by joint tenancy or beneficiary designation.
2. Even supposing that everything passes to your surviving spouse by right of survivorship or beneficiary designation, the surviving spouse would need a will to direct the disposition of assets upon his or her death.
3. If you and your spouse should die in a common disaster without wills, your property would be distributed per the intestacy laws of the state in which you reside — and these laws might not conform to your wishes. Also, the person selected by the court to administer your estate might not be the person you would have chosen.
4. If you have minor children and are not survived by a spouse, you can designate a guardian for your children in a will.
5. In a will you can provide for the particular needs of your children and other loved ones. For example, you might establish trusts for children or grandchildren when a stream of income is more advisable than a lump-sum gift.
6. In a will you can leave some portion of your estate to your local church and other Christian ministries. You can also do this by naming a charity as beneficiary of an insurance policy, a retirement fund, or a bank or investment account. But when you have a will, you can choose which gifts to make in your will and which to make by beneficiary designation.
Call upon the Kentucky Baptist Foundation as a helpful partner in these vital planning decisions. You may contact us at our toll-free number (866) 489-3533.
Richard Carnes is the president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, P O Box 436389, Louisville, KY 40253; toll-free (866) 489-3533; KYBaptistFoundation.org