No will-- no choice

I am uncomfortable with the fact that my husband does not have a will. He is highly paid and owns considerable assets. We jointly own a house, a tract of land, and a checking account. He says the state will appoint an administrator, and I should receive one-third of the state -- or I could contest the settlement. I have contributed nothing of my own to these assets. Would this affect my case? -- E. T.

Your husband is being unduly inconsiderate. If you have maintained a home and raised children, you should not consider that you "have contributed nothing of my own."

It's true, if your husband dies intestate (without a will), the state's right of succession will determine who among the heirs, including you, receive the assets. However, a will or a living trust provides you and him with a means of determining who will receive your assets and, in some cases, makes a substantial difference in the tax bill if children or other heirs receive a portion of the assets later. Full and optimum use of the martial deduction can best be handled through a will.

Your husband should also consider that he may be the survivor. With wills, you and he have a chance to choose who will receive assets and to minimize the cost of settlement and taxes. Without a will, choices are limited to state law provisions. The state, in effect, writes your will. Try again, possibly with the help and advice of a respected friend or attorney, to convince your husband that both you and he should have will -- and do it now.

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