Most of us are aware that our time on earth will not last forever. It does not matter at all how young we are, the truth is, there is a very real guarantee in life, & that is death. Because of this, it is often astounding how many people carry on their daily affairs without thought to the end of life. It can be difficult to think about, but why wouldn’t we plan for something that is a certainty & also something which can simplify our lives and the lives of those we love? Drafting a will is an important part of that process.
A will can help with many things. Here are a few.
- It can help you be the director of your estate after you pass away. Many people are aware that your estate has to go through probate court upon your death whether you have a will or not. A will simply helps to speed up the process because you’ve already told the court where you’d like certain possessions, money & property to go.
- It can help you give direction for the care of your dependents. If you have underage children, disabled relatives or elderly relatives in your care, you can give direction for how they should be treated & who you’d like to carry on their care after you’re gone. If this is not in writing, the choice is up to the court alone.
- You can give donations. If you give donations through your will, they will oftentimes not have to have an estate tax added to them. You can ask your CPA about the specifics, but there are definite benefits to giving in this way.
- As stated before, a will can help ensure that your possessions, property and money go to those whom you choose, but it can also help you to direct those things away from someone that you do not trust with those things. If left solely up to the court, they will go through a process to determine who should “rightfully” inherit any parts of your estate & they will not know that it is not your wish for those people to inherit.
- You and your family will have peace of mind. The most important reason for writing a will is simply to have things settled before the end of life comes. Emotions run high, & sentiment is overpowering during those times. People sometimes act in ways that are opposite of their general character when things are so emotional. It’s best to have in writing what you’d like to go to certain individuals. You need not state why. Everyone will not understand you decisions. They don’t need to know that cousin Susie once helped you out of a tough financial situation & that you’d like to offer her a gift upon your death, nor that your grandson is planning to do an amazing thing with his career that you’d like to support. Your decisions in this are completely your own & the court honours those wishes.
Remember that as long as you’re living, your will can be changed at any time. It is not a one-time document that will not be revised. It is advisable to review it from time to time & update as necessary. The important thing is that you make one.
If you have trouble making it a priority, perhaps try something new to remind yourself. Tie a length of yarn around your ankle until you’ve completed the task, or add it to the top of your “to do” list every day until it’s complete. Do not put off this important choice until a later date, remember, we do not have any guarantee of tomorrow.