Ruth-Ann E. Toups
Everyone Needs a Will
We have said it before, and we will say it again, everyone needs a will. Old or young, rich or poor, sick or healthy—everyone needs a will. Today, we are continuing our series about the essential documents in your estate plan. Think of your will as the foundation of your estate plan. Your will is the most basic level of protection that you can put in place.
Everyone needs a will, no matter how old you are. Unfortunately, we never know when tragedy might strike. Some of the most complex probate cases involve a younger person passing away. When we are young we often have a lot of irons in the fire. Generally, we are less likely to have consolidated our assets; more likely to have higher liabilities (such as a mortgage, student loan debt, or line of credit); and, more likely to die leaving minor children. These are all crucial aspects of your life that a will helps plan for.
Everyone needs a will, no matter how much money you have. We aren’t all millionaires or even close, but we often don’t realize just how much we do have. The truth is, you will leave stuff behind. You might own property, or a bank account, or you might leave your loan payments and rent behind. Money is also the least meaningful thing you will leave behind. Your favorite t-shirt, your couch, your TV, and your dog are all important assets that those close to you will want divided fairly. You may even leave behind a large a lawsuit due to the manner in which you passed away. A will is not just about handling what you may own, but also about handling what you may owe, or be owed, if you pass away. Without a will, we give up our ability to control who gets the assets we leave behind. A good will outlines your beneficiaries and the representative of your estate, commonly called your executor.
Everyone needs a will, no matter how healthy you are. Death can be a scary topic. It can be especially overwhelming if it’s something you haven’t experienced with close loved ones, or maybe even if you have. But, those of us who have lost someone dear to us know that the most loving thing they did to help us when we were grieving is having their estate plan already in place. As uncomfortable as it is to take a few hours and talk about this topic, think of all the discomfort you’ll be saving your family from by doing this work now so they don’t have to do this work while they are missing you. One of the best ways you can love your family is to go meet with your attorney about your will. Your attorney is going to help you feel better, and she won’t make the situation seem morbid or depressing. Once you start talking about the assets that are important to you and the people who are important to you, it can just feel like your setting up future gifts for those you love.