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70 percent of adults with children do not have wills

Most Massachusetts residents would do whatever is necessary to provide for their children. Despite this fact, many of parents do not have even a basic estate plan. In 2013, a poll revealed that nearly 70 percent of adults with children who were minors did not have wills.

A will does more than just provide for the distribution of an individual's property after death. A parent can appoint a guardian for any unemancipated children. Otherwise, family members could end up in a costly and time-consuming battle regarding custody of the children. In those circumstances, a court will decide who becomes the children's guardian, and it might not be the person the decedent would have chosen.

A Massachusetts resident can also name a trusted individual to manage the estate after death. This individual is often someone who the person believes will carry out his or her wishes. Without a will, the court will have to appoint someone to carry out these duties. Again, this could be someone which the decedent would not have given the job.

Wills also allow an individual to leave property to anyone he or she wishes. In the absence of a will, state law will determine how that property will be distributed. Once a will is executed, it is also important to make sure that someone knows where it, the property and any pertinent documentation are located. This will allow family members and/or friends to locate important items quickly, which could ensure their safety and speed up the inventory process, which is a necessary part of the administration of the estate.

Source: USA Today, "5 ways couples can tackle estate planning now", Barbara Marquand, Nov. 14, 2015

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