Make a Will: Do It For Your Family

Brent Pittman —  05/15/2012


You love your family and want the best for them. The thought of leaving them in financial or legal problems if you die early is unthinkable.

Yet, if you are like 50% of Americans with kids, you have no will in place. 41% of Baby Boomers don’t have a last will either. It is time to do something for your family that will last longer than you. It’s time to write a will.

Why You Need a Will

The most important reason to write a will is not for yourself, but for those you leave behind.

Why you need a will:

  • You Love Your Children-This is a huge reason to have a will. If you die without naming a guardian for your minor children, then the state will decide who will take care of your children. They don’t know what your intentions were or who is best suited for raising children. Don’t leave the decision up to the courts or let your family fight about guardianship.
  • Keeping the Family Peace- If you have any material possession, then people could fight over them. Your family could fight over small amounts of money or important possession. If you have an larger estate, then a Trust could be a better option to avoid probate court. Consult an attorney in your state to discuss this option.
  • Charitable Giving-If you want to give your possessions or money to a charitable organization when you die, it needs to be in writing.
  • Complicated Situations- Some situations are complicated and need a will drafted by an attorney to ensure your wishes will be followed. If you have been married several times, have children from a previous marriage, have a child with special needs, domestic partnerships, disinheriting heirs, or believe your will be contested make sure you have a will and consult an attorney in your state.
  • Small Business- If you have a business or are partner in a business, then you’ll want to get professional help to draft the documents to ensure the business keeps running smoothly and passes to the correct heirs.
  • Pet Owner- If no guardian exists for Sparky the pooch, then they could end up in a shelter.

Are you convinced  yet? I bet 99% of you fit at least one of the above categories. It’s time to create a will.

Why I Finally Wrote a Will

I had been putting off writing a will for  years. I know I should do one. It’s been on my goals and ‘to do’ list countless times, but it never happens.

Until now. For Mother’s Day my wife asked me to draft a will as part of her Mother’s Day gift. Geez, how can I say no to that? The heat was on to draft a will this past weekend and I’m happy to say: mission accomplished.

Make a Online Will

*If your situation isn’t too complicated, there is a good chance that a state specific online will is a good option.

I looked into several companies and ultimately decided on U.S. Legal Forms. It was one of the cheaper options and enabled me to name a guardian and set up a basic will. I only had to fill in about 40 blanks of information, which took about 1 hour since most everything had been decided. Next step is to print out the document and sign it in front of a Notary and 2 witnesses.

I also considered and plan on using as our situation becomes more complicated. Their tutorial was very detailed and easy to understand. They even had options for adding virtual property (blogs, email addresses, etc) which is very relevant for bloggers like me.

They charge a yearly fee (for unlimited forms), but you are able to save your will to make changes when life events change. I’ve also used Rocket Lawyer for business contracts and was pleased with the ease and quality of their services.

I Have a Will, Now What?

If you have a will that has been signed, notarized, and witnessed (or requirements per your state) then congratulations- You’ve got a will!

1) Make sure the executor has a copy of the will and store a copy in a safety deposit box at a bank or home safe.

2) Make a list of all current assets, financial advisors, passwords & security questions, legal documents, etc and let your executor know the location of the document.

3) Talk about any important or unusual decisions with your heirs and loved ones, so they know what will happen. No one should be shocked upon your death.

4) Review your will periodically and make appropriate changes should the following change:

  • Marry, divorce, or remarry.
  • Birth of a child.
  • Changes in state or federal tax and estate laws.
  • Move to a new state or out of the country.
  • Significant change in assets.
  • Death of spouse, guardian, heirs, or executor of the will.

Do you have a will or estate plan? What is stopping you from writing a will this month? 

*Disclosure, I am not a lawyer or giving state specific legal advice. Consult an attorney for specific legal questions.

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.