It’s hard to think about and discuss death with your loved ones. It can feel frightening or uncomfortable, and no one likes to think about their family passing away. Because of this, many people put off making a will until it’s too late. This forces the courts to make these important decisions for you. They will get to decide who inherits what and even who will be guardians for your young children.
Although you might think you only need a will if you have a large estate, everybody needs a will. Even if you don’t own a lot of property, you still need a will to name guardians, leave funeral wishes, support causes you care about, and more.
By planning ahead and taking twenty minutes now to make a will, you’ll protect your family and save them time, money, and stress after you’re gone. Here are the five vital reasons that you should make a will today.
1. Protect Your Minor Children
This is one of the most important reasons for making a will. While the surviving parent would usually get legal custody of your children, what happens if you both pass away? If you have children under eighteen, you and the other parent need to plan for this possibility.
When you make a will, you can legally nominate a guardian to take care of them. This person will be responsible for providing for all their daily needs, such as food, housing, education, and healthcare. If you don’t choose this person in advance, and both you and the other parent pass away, then a court will have to choose for you. Make sure your children are taken care of by someone you trust by including this in your last will and testament.
2. Don’t Let the Government Decide Who Gets Your Property
When you die without a will, your estate may go through a complicated probate process. This is when a local court decides who receives your property. A probate judge will have to appoint someone to distribute your estate, and may be deeply involved in deciding exactly how to divide it among your heirs.
This can be lengthy, expensive, and stressful for your loved ones. This is especially true if anyone in your family decides to fight over their inheritance. It also means you won’t have a say in who gets what.
Local probate courts also prioritize family (including remote relatives) over friends. If you aren’t close to your family, and would rather leave your things to a close friend, you will need a will to lay out those priorities.
If you want the government to be less involved and decide on your own who gets your property, then you should make a will. Deciding this in advance can make it much easier on your grieving loved ones and streamline the probate process. With a will, all the probate judge has to do is validate that it’s genuine and authorize the executor you’ve named to carry it out.
3. Provide For Your Loved Ones
By making a will, you can provide for your family and/or friends and choose who will get your money, property, and other assets. To do so, you’ll name your loved ones as beneficiaries for specific assets in your estate. You can also name people as beneficiaries for the “residuary” of your estate — any leftover assets, such as bank accounts, cars, etc, that you haven’t named already.
For example, you could choose one child to inherit your cars, and another to inherit your home. You can also prevent anyone you want to disinherit, such as an ex-spouse, from receiving anything by removing them from your will.
If you are close to your family, it can be a good idea to discuss your wishes with your family in advance. This can ensure that everyone feels taken care of and prevent future family disputes. For example, leaving your home to more than one child may make it difficult for them to decide what to do with it afterwards. You can ease this process by talking to them about it before making your will.
4. Leave Clear Guidance For Your Funeral Wishes
After you pass, your family will be grieving. They may find it hard to make decisions and deal with the stress of planning your funeral. You can reduce this stress by leaving funeral instructions for them.
While these instructions aren’t legally binding, creating them means your family will never have to deal with the burden of not knowing what you want. In them, you can include things like whether you want to be buried or cremated, where you want your service to be held, and even what music you’d like played.
Furthermore, funerals are expensive. By doing a little planning and laying out your wishes in your will, you may help your family save money as well.
5. Create a Legacy in the World
Many people don’t know this, but you can use your will to create a legacy and leave a gift to a charity whose mission is close to your heart. For most people, this is the largest gift they’ll ever make, creating a positive impact on the world long after they’re gone. To do this, all you have to do is name a nonprofit organization as a beneficiary of part of your estate.
How to Write Your Will Online For Free
It’s a common misconception that making a will is expensive, or that you have to go to a lawyer to create one. While that’s certainly an option, it’s easier than ever to make a legally valid will online. There are many companies that offer online wills, and though most of them charge for their services, you can make your will for free at freewill.com. The site is able to offer its online will-making tool for free thanks to the support of hundreds of nonprofits.
More than 200,000 people have created their wills on FreeWill because their online questionnaire makes it especially easy to fill out the information you need. Once you’ve completed it, all you have to do is download your pre-filled forms, sign them with witnesses or a notary, and keep them safe. The site even provides suggestions for estate planning attorneys in your area if you prefer to prep your documents and then bring them to a lawyer to check over.
All it takes is twenty minutes to get peace of mind, knowing you and your family are protected and prepared for the future. Set aside your lunch hour today to get started and make your will online.