No one wants to talk about making a will because it reminds us of our own mortality. It also makes us confront some other uncomfortable stuff, like finances and who we want (or don’t want) taking care of our children in our absence. We also often think of a will as something for older people (forgetting that before long we are those older people), when in fact, it’s a critical document for anyone with children or assets. Here’s precisely why you need a will now, not later:
1. IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, A WILL DETERMINES WHO WILL CARE FOR THEM IN THE EVENT OF YOUR DEATH.
Without this document, your kids will likely go to whoever is considered next-of-kin regardless of whether you think that person is the best candidate for the job or not. If you leave your children unexpectedly, at least provide them some comfort in their living arrangements, instead of forcing them to bounce around from home to home until someone can keep them for good. This prevents people from fighting over them as well. Take religious traditions, school zones, and the adult’s financial situation into consideration before making your final decision. Of course, you should have a discussion with the person you are naming in the will to ensure that they are willing and able to take custody of the kids.
2. A WILL SPECIFIES WHO RECEIVES YOUR ASSETS
Without a will, there isn’t a guarantee that your wishes will be carried out. (And the state certainly won’t grant anything to people who aren’t related to you.) Whether you have antiques, valuables, life savings, or property, don’t let the state decide who gets what, and more importantly, don’t let your family fight over it all. If your wishes aren’t clear, resentments will brew, and you don’t want to make an already difficult time even harder on your loved ones. This is also your opportunity to disinherit individuals from your estate. If you have any concern that something might end up in the wrong hands (an ex-spouse, for example), you can prevent it with a will.
3. HAVING A WILL SPEEDS UP THE PROBATE PROCESS
Whether you have a will or not, your estate will go through a probate process (which is a court that administers your estate when you die). If you don’t have a will, this court will decide how to divide your estate and will likely cause unnecessary delays.
4. A WILL ALLOWS YOU TO PASS YOUR BUSINESS DOWN T YOUOR HEIRS OR TO CO-OWNERS IN THE EVENT OF YOUR DEATH.
If you’ve worked hard to build a business, don’t let it all go to waste. Having a will ensures that it will be passed down to whomever you want it to be passed on to.
5. CREATING A WILL GIVES YOU A CHANCE TO GIVE TO CHARITY IN A WAY THAT MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE IN YOUR LIFETIME
If there’s a cause, a scholarship, a church, or any non-profit that means a lot to you, you can designate that a portion of your estate goes to it. This may be a financial donation or even the donation of your vehicle or other belongings.
Many people also feel daunted by the process of creating a will because they think it’s set in stone, but as your life changes, you can make changes to your will. So if you have kids or assets, stop making excuses and speak with a professional today.