Do you have a Will? That is, do you have a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your property after your death? The document should also spell out other important considerations like the legal care of your minor children upon your passing.
Between one-half and two-thirds of American adults do not have a Will. The big question is why? There are many answers, but some of the most common answers are, “I don’t have time,” “I’m still young,” or “I don’t have much so what does it matter.” None of these answers are real answers, they are actually excuses. The truth is, a Will is something that has to do with our eventual death, and who wants to think about that?
To start, see if you answer yes to any of these questions:
Who Needs a Will?
Wills are not just for the rich and wealthy. Regardless of how much or how little money you have, a Will ensures your wishes are heard. It states that whatever personal belongings and assets you have will go to family or the beneficiaries you name or designate. If you own a business, a Will can help ensure a smooth legal transition of those assets.
Beyond your property and personal belongings, if you have minor children, a Will is a must. A Will ensures that you get to choose your children's legal guardian should you pass before your children are of legal adult age.
Through a Will, you can also name what is known as an executor, or the person you trust to have the authority to ensure that your wishes are carried out and to ensure that all of your affairs are in order from paying off bills to canceling credit cards.
What Happens if There is No Will?
Without a Will, a court makes these decisions on your behalf, among others, through a lengthy and often stressful process called probate. Few people plan to die, but if you die suddenly without a Will, you will inadvertently subject your family and loved ones to unnecessary confusion and anxiety at what is already a difficult time.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
For most people, a Will is easy to produce. It can be prepared using legal software online for relatively little money. However, online software documents are cookie-cutter, with little to no customization, and depending on your age and situation, may not be enough. If you have a more complicated estate, or you're not comfortable using software for the more complicated documents, you should consult an estate attorney. Learn more about online Wills HERE.
How Do You Get Started?
At a minimum, a Will at any stage in your life should do the following: appoint a guardian if you have minor children, appoint an executor to administer your will when you die, and spell out specifically how you want your property distributed.
The first step in deciding how you want your property distributed is gathering information. You'll need the following for anyone named is your Will—such as children, spouse, proposed guardians, the executor, and other beneficiaries:
A list of assets, including detailed information about the following:
As life changes, it is best to revisit your last Will periodically or upon certain major life events. Revisiting this document helps to ensure that your Will still reflects your desires. Last but not least, even the best Wills won't be any good if nobody knows how to find it. Make sure your family members and your executor know where your Will is kept. Learn more about how often to update your Will HERE.
Whether you’re ready to start pre-planning or facing a crisis and trying to figure out what to do next, Bob Michaels with Tacoma Elder Care is here to help. To get started today or to learn more about what we do, schedule an appointment today!
Bob Michaels is extremely passionate about providing the best possible legal experience for his clients, and focuses his practice on elder law, estate planning, business, and real estate matters. Bob specializes in helping folks build a long-term care plan based on their circumstance. If you are considering a long-term care plan, schedule your appointment today!
This article is an abridged and edited version of one that originally appeared HERE.