If you’re like many parents across America, you just sent your kids off to college. In a normal year, this rite of passage would feel as normal as fall weather, carving pumpkins and high school football games. In 2020, nothing feels normal.
The pandemic highlights an uncomfortable reality – none of us are immune from an accident or illness. Life changes fast, so it’s important to have foundational documents in place, like wills and young adult power of attorney forms, to respond when necessary.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the legal care of your minor children and distribution of your property and assets upon your passing.
Wills aren’t just for people with young children or people with great wealth. Everyone needs one.
Do you have kids in college? You need a will.
Do you know what will happen to your young children if you pass suddenly? You need a will.
Do you care what happens to your belongings after you die? You guessed it, you need a will.
In this article, we tackle the three most common reasons people delay getting a will and three compelling reasons why you need one.
3 Reasons People Delay Getting a Will
About 60% of Americans don’t have a will. This is striking, given the fact that a will ensures your wishes come true, regardless of the amount of money you have. That’s because a will is a legal document that states your personal belongings and assets will go to family or the beneficiaries you name.
So, why do so many people put it off?
There are three main reasons – time, hassle and expense.
We’re busy. Creating a will seems like something that takes too long. Or, is a hassle that requires finding a lawyer, setting an appointment and drawing out lengthy legal forms. Or, we assume making a will is expensive.
We’ve actually tackled all three of those common reasons people don’t get a will with our will package. In less time than it takes to eat lunch, you can protect your family, gain peace of mind and create a legally binding will that details your wishes for your estate.
Our documents are designed to meet the requirements of each state and only cost $129. We also throw in two other important documents – a health care power of attorney and finance power of attorney form. It’s fast, easy and affordable. Whether you’re making a will for the first time, or need to update one you made years ago, there’s no reason for you not to create your will today.
Why You Need a Will
We’ve touched on this already, but understanding why you need a will gives you the motivation you need to take the next step and get it done.
The most important reason to make a will is to be clear about who gets your assets and cares for your minor children after your death. A will lets you keep your assets out of the hands of those who you don’t want to have them, and puts them into the hands of those who you do.
A will allows you to name an executor, someone you trust, who has the authority to ensure your wishes in your will are carried out.
Anyone with minor children needs a will, because it ensures that your children go to the legal guardian you designate, should you die before your children are adults. You might know exactly who you’d want to care for your children and assume they’d go to those individuals, but in the absence of a will, a court decides what happens to your children.
If you have older parents who aren’t able to care for young children, or family living in other states, who will your children go to? Unless you make a will, you are leaving it up to the courts to decide.
With a will, your heirs are able to access what you’re leaving to them faster and easier. A will can also help you give charitable donations to organizations you care about, which may also help you offset any estate taxes.
If you own a business, a will ensures a smooth transition to the new owner(s). All of these are clear and compelling reasons to make a will. But there’s one more reason – it’s what happens to your estate without one.
What happens when you die without a will?
When you die without a will, you are intestate and your estate moves into a state of intestacy. At this point, the state where you live decides how to distribute your assets and who provides care for any minor children you have.
This means your money, children, home, pets, heirlooms and more are left to the care of the state.
After you pass without a will, the state names a personal representative – someone who will distribute your assets. Absent a will, you have no say in who this responsibility falls to. The state could name an ex-spouse, parent, or other family member who wouldn’t be your first choice.
If no one is willing to be your personal representative, the courts could choose a total stranger.
Your estate enters a process called probate. Your money and other assets are frozen until the courts decide who will distribute them. This means no one can access your things, even if you gave them permission to do so on your deathbed.
The probate process can string out for a lengthy amount of time and turn your untimely passing into something even harder for your family to bear.
Why You Need to Update Your Will
Life changes. Your will should change with it. If you’re like many people, you may have created a will when your children were little. Fifteen years later, they’re off to college and your will is still back in kindergarten.
It can be helpful to think of your will like a house. If you bought a house fifteen years ago and haven’t remodeled anything over that span, you may have a few projects you want to get going. Your wishes for your kitchen or bathrooms may be different than they were when you bought the home.
People you designated to care for your children may no longer be in a position to do so. Or, your children may no longer be minors. Your assets may have grown or changed substantially.
You may have heirlooms and property you want to designate for heirs that you didn’t fifteen years ago.
There is a real need to keep your will updated. What keeps people from doing so is the same thing that keeps people from creating a will in the first place – time, hassle and money.
Thankfully, updating a will with Mama Bear Legal Forms is as easy as creating one. You just plug in your information and we do the rest for you. In fact, you can take care of it over lunch.
Get Your Will Package Today
Creating or updating your will doesn’t take long or cost much. You can do it in 20 minutes from the comfort of your own home at a time that is convenient for you.
Mama Bear Legal Forms provides law firm quality, state-specific documents that are easy to create, simple to download and incredibly affordable.
All three of the forms we offer in our Will Package are legally valid in all states and include guidance on how to complete them.