Generally speaking, no one wants to think about kicking the bucket and we are focused on the here and now. Our lives are consumed with all of the things that we need and want to do. Why would we ever want to think about what happens after we die? There’s a simple answer to that. We don’t want to burden our loved ones with the legal hassle of determining what happens to our belongings and assets after we die. This is why making a will is so important.
What If I Die Without a Will?
My daughter, at only 23 years old, had to bear the weight of losing her mother a few years ago. A couple of years later her grandfather (her mom’s dad) passed. Neither of them had made a will and my daughter was the next of kin for them both.
It is difficult enough having to deal with the pain of losing a loved one, let alone having to plan a funeral and figuring out what to do with their belongings. What’s even more difficult is trying to gain access to life insurance policies, retirement plans, and cash in savings and checking accounts.
State Laws Decide
If you die and don’t have a will, the State laws for your state will decide what happens to the property and assets. In some states, only half of a person’s assets can go to a surviving spouse. When there is no will, you leave your loved ones struggling to fight for your assets.
You may think that if you don’t have any assets, like a 401K, pension, vehicle, or life insurance policy, that you don’t need to make a will. This is the wrong mentality.
Think about the $500 that you have in your savings account or the box of cash that you have hidden under a floorboard. You can specify who you want that money to go to by simply filling out and filing some paperwork.
Maybe you don’t have any family left or a next of kin. Did you know that you can donate your belongings and assets to your favorite charity or a friend? You have complete control over where your things go, even after you are gone, but you need to have a will.
Also, if you are a single parent of minor children, a judge will decide who cares for them. If you have no family or next of kin, your children may end up in foster care.
Types of Wills
There are four main types of wills. Choosing the one that is most appropriate for you is dependent on your situation. You should also keep in mind that state laws will vary on how the wills are executed.
A simple will is for those who don’t have a lot of complicated finances. This type of will also covers the appointing of a guardian for minor children.
Testamentary Trust Will:
A testamentary trust will put some of your property into a trust and then your assets are distributed to a beneficiary that is done by a third person who controls how and when the property is given to the beneficiary. Funds can also be distributed gradually over time, rather than presenting a lump sum.
A joint will is created by two testators or leave their property to each other. So if one person of the joint will dies first, the other person will receive the estate and vice versa.
A living will does not distribute property like the other types of wills. This will gives instructions on what type of medical treatment you wish to receive if you become too ill to communicate. The living will needs to be clear and detailed. An example of this would be if you have severe brain damage and need to be connected to life support and there is no option for recovery. You would state if you want to continue receiving treatment, or when you want to terminate it.
Making a Will is Easy
Making a will is easy and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on hiring an attorney. There are several applications that will walk you through, step-by-step to making your will.
My favorite one for will-making and other legal documents is Standard Legal. They make the process so easy and you can make one for less than $15!
- Select the Estate Planning software that you need. Choose from the options below:
- Once you’ve completed the forms, you just print them out. If you don’t have a printer, Standard Legal will print the documents and mail them to you!
- Sign your forms in front of a Notary Public (you might have access to one for free at your local library)
- File the will with your local court.
- If you don’t want to fill out the documents yourself, you can have Standard Legal do it for you! Check out their Document Preparation services. They create customized forms for you. All you will need to do is sign the form!
- Choose from the following services:
Having a will removes the burden of having your family fight to hold on to your belongings and assets. It is tough enough for them to deal with your loss. Making a will also give you the peace of mind that your family will be taken care of when your time comes.
Please check out my other posts under Personal Finance.