My husband and I have been married 37 years and have 7 biological children together, he is 8 years older than I am and we are both in good health. He found out 2 years ago that he has a daughter 44. We have never drawn a will. The house is in both our names, but the vast majority of the estate is in his name, retirement, etc as I have been a stay at home mom. He has named me beneficiary of all his assets and feels that is adequate. I think it's important to have a will, he does not. In the event of either of our deaths, I feel all the assets should be divided in half, the living spouse receiving one half. If I predecease him I want my half to be split between my 7 biological children. I would think his half would be divided between his 8 biological children. I am aware that I would have to also be named on the assets for this to happen, he's says hes willing but doesn't think it necessary.
The question answers itself. Of course its important to have a will! Get your husband on board and find a general practitioner or trusts and estates attorney who can draw up an appropriate will that works for both of you. Use AVVO to find one.
Generally, any assets that have joint owners and/or named beneficiaries will pass to those beneficiaries upon the owner's passing. These assets, known as non-probate assets, would pass to the beneficiaries outside of the purview of one's Last Will and Testament, meaning that the Will would not be needed as the assets themselves would automatically go to the surviving account owners and named beneficiaries.
With that being said, it's STRONGLY recommended that all individuals execute a Last Will and Testament as the document will cover any assets that do not have joint owners, named beneficiaries, etc. and can allow for greater creativity in distribution. Furthermore, complications can arise if a joint owner and/or named beneficiary passes away PRIOR to the account owner and the account owner never updates the beneficiaries of said accounts. In this instance, those assets would be payable to the account owner's estate and would fall under the purview of his/her Last Will and Testament. Given circumstances such as these, it's ALWAYS a great idea to have a Last Will and Testament in place, even if only in place for emergency situations.
Please be advised that the response listed above is for general informational purposes only and should NOT be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been created as a result of said response. This answer is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your current situation.
A will is absolutely essential. If your husband pre-deceases you without a will, you will not get half. You will only be entitled to 1/3 and the remaining 2/3 divided among ALL his children. The same would be true for you if you pre-decease your husband. I suggest that you see an attorney now to have your wills prepared.
All the attorneys who answered are correct - everyone should have a will. A will gives you a measure of control, otherwise there can be unintended consequences not to mention additional costs and hassles. I would also note that with so many children the need to name a clear executor so that the children don't argue about who should handle things is essential. I am dealing with an estate now with 6 siblings and the mother died with no will...to say that there is in-fighting is an understatement because each child thinks they should have been handling the estate and various "cliques" of children have taken to certain "teams".
The complexity of your plan is determined by your goals, assets and other factors. In addition, it is probably just as important to have a discussion with an estate attorney about other documents and issues (incapacity and powers of attorney, long term care issues and planning for nursing care, etc.).
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature.
In addition to the posted answers-you might also consider a Living Trust which offers privacy and avoiding probate.
The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.
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