It might sound odd coming from an Estate Planning Attorney, but I’ll say it:
Not everybody needs a Will.
Having said that, there are some good reasons why you should consider whether you need a Will.
You have minor children: One really good reason to have a Will is if you have minor children. Especially if you’re a single parent. And, believe it or not, it’s not about ensuring that your children get their inheritance. When you make a Will, you can nominate specific people to serve as the guardians of your minor children if you die when they are still minors. This is especially important if both parents die at the same time, if the custodial parent is the second to die, or if a surviving parent is either unwilling or unable to care for the minor children.
You have Heirs that can’t manage money well: You worked hard for your money, and nobody wants their hard-earned money being frivolously spent by an heir who can’t manage money. When you create a Will, you can specify who gets the assets you leave behind, and how they get it. In extreme cases, you can disinherit someone to make sure they can’t get any money to waste. In less extreme cases, you can use your Will to establish a trust for your spendthrift beneficiary, and appoint someone who will manage the assets for the benefit of the beneficiary.
You don’t want your kids to fight after you’re gone: New Mexico law allows you to create a personal property list that can be attached to your Will and modified any time after the creation of your Will. This list lets you make specific gifts of personal property items that are not specifically disposed of by your Will. If you have items that you know have special significance for one of your children, or anyone else, you can use the list to ensure that the items go to who you want them to. Believe it or not, having this simple list can prevent a lot of conflict between your heirs during an already stressful time.
Some of these reasons could also be addressed by more advanced Estate Planning, such as establishing Revocable or Irrevocable Trusts during your lifetime. While not everyone needs a Will, everyone should have a plan, even if that means knowing that you don’t need documents.