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I don't own much. Do I need a will?

If you don't think you need a will, or just haven't gotten around to getting one, you are in good company. Up to two-thirds of Americans, including many here in North Carolina, don't have one. Right now, you may be thinking that if that many people don't have a will, what's the big deal?

Maybe you don't think you own enough to need a will. Do you have a bank account, a car and personal belongings? Who would you like to designate who receives those items in the event of your death? If you have minor children, having a will becomes even more important. Who will care for them after you are gone?

Without a will, North Carolina decides for you

If you fail to execute a will before your death, the laws and the courts of the state decide who receives your property and who takes care of your children. Someone that you would never have chosen to do so could end up with your children and your property. If that's not bad enough, the process can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if your surviving family members decide to argue.

With a will, you decide

If you execute a will before your death, you decide who cares for your children and who receives your property. Even if you don't own much, you retain the right to give it to whomever you wish in a will. You can ensure that your choice of guardian for your children is clear to everyone.

In addition, you name someone who will take care of your final affairs after you pass away. This person, called an executor, carries out the wishes you express in your will and takes care of closing out your accounts, paying your final debts and distributing your property.

With help, the process may go smoother

You may discover numerous online programs that say they provide you with the necessary forms to create a will. However, they cannot account for your particular circumstances and needs. In addition, they may not follow current North Carolina law, which means that your will may not stand up in court.

You may want to consider taking the time to discuss your needs and wishes with an attorney who understands your circumstances and the legal requirements. This may help ensure that your last will and testament stands up to court scrutiny and accomplishes your goals, which may provide you the peace of mind you need.

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