Everyone should have a Will, especially people with young children. Here’s why:
A Will is the best way to transfer guardianship of minors if tragedy were ever to happen. As for your personal property, a Will is important if you want certain individuals or charities to receive specific gifts. Otherwise, without a will the state decides who takes care of your kids and who gets what.
Not having a Will causes a special problem with blended families. Laws vary from state to state so it is important to understand that the law might be contrary to what you would like to happen to your assets and belongings. For instance if you have a minor child from a previous marriage, the child may end up inheriting a portion of your assets through the state’s plan. Also, the other parent of the child could become the person in charge of the inheritance. With a Will you can determine the amount or percentage of your assets given to the child and name someone to control the assets for the child.
If you have assets valued over $200,000, you may even consider a living trust. A trust is simply a tool that helps avoid the publicity and cost of probate among other things. Probate is the process of having the court oversee the distribution of your assets to your creditors (yes your creditors) and your beneficiaries. Bypassing probate can save your estate thousands of dollars, making the cost of setting up a trust small in comparison. Even people with trusts should have a will for items that don’t make it into the trust.
There are a few other documents that everyone should also have. A Power of Attorney gives someone the ability to handle your financial matters in the event you are not able to do so. A Medical Power of Attorney, sometimes called a Health Care Surrogate, allows a loved one to make medical decisions for you when you are unable. Finally, a Living Will can save your loved ones the grief and mental anguish of deciding to “pull the plug,” which no one should have to do.
It is never too early to plan for the inevitable: so far the human mortality rate is fixed at 100 percent.
The Dalai Lama said: “Analysis of death is not for the sake of becoming fearful but to appreciate this precious lifetime during which you can perform many important practices.” Make sure you set aside some time to set up a plan to care for your family’s well-being.