Getting a will is not just for those who are on the cusp of retiring. People of all ages should consider writing one, says Business Insider. Here's why.
Despite the well-known fact that everyone alive today will kick the bucket at one point or another, nearly 60 percent of Americans admitted in a 2011 poll conducted by online legal service Rocket Lawyer that they didn't have a will.
In fact, one-third said they'd rather do their taxes, get a root canal, or give up sex for a month than lay out their dying wishes in black and white.
All right, let's not get out of hand now.
Making a will these days is easier than ever, and if you've been putting it off simply because it seems daunting, then you could be making a big mistake.
"You do it for your family's [future]," says Rocket Lawyer founder Charley Moore. "[A will] enables you to start thinking about issues like whether you have the right insurance coverage, life insurance, and ways of replacing your lost income."
Whether you're 22 years old and just ran your umpteenth marathon or you're ready to retire, laying out an estate plan should definitely be near the top of your to-do list.
It's one of the three most important documents every adult should have.
Here are the other two, according to Moore:
A living will: Also called an advanced healthcare directive, a living will is where you lay out all the nuts and bolts of your end-of-life care. If you wind up in a coma or unresponsive in the hospital, then a living will can help your family decide how to handle your medical treatment.
Durable power of attorney: Choose an attorney you trust to administer your estate after your death, says Moore. He or she will be objective (unlike family members), and their entire job is to follow your wishes.
Read on for more.
It's easier (and cheaper) to do than ever before.
It's relatively inexpensive to create a will these days, with costs ranging from $20 to $50. Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom are just two of several sites that offer will-making services at affordable rates. They work much like software such as TurboTax, which hits you with a host of "interview-like" questions.
Your first legal document is free on Rocket Lawyer, and unless your assets are supercomplicated, you can draft a will in about 10 to 15 minutes, says Moore.
Someone's got to look out for the kids.
Don't just assume your parents or other relatives will step in to take care of your little ones after you pass away, says Moore.
"If you want a specific family member or friend to take care of your children but that person is not your next of kin, you'll need to designate him or her specifically in your will."
Otherwise, the state might step in and hand custody over to a blood relative you may not approve of.
Sometimes the best die young.
Nearly everyone under the age of 30 – 92 percent – said they didn't have a will at all, the survey revealed.
But people in their 20s and 30s go through plenty of life changes that make it important to start creating a will early in life, says Moore.
You might get married, have children, file for divorce, or go through a life-changing medical condition. Think about who you would leave your assets to if you were to pass away, such as friends, family, or charitable causes.
To keep things civil at home.
A lot of people make the mistake of designating one of their children as the executor of their estate," says Moore.
"Most estate planners caution against this. It can create tension among siblings, and who wants that?"
Choose someone you trust, whether it's an attorney or a trusted friend, he advises. Just be sure it's not someone who's a major beneficiary of your will. If you do pick an attorney to handle your will, then set aside funds in your estate to pay the fee.
You'll save your family from worrying.
Once you've got your will squared away, don't let it become some huge family secret, says Moore.
No matter what sibling-rivalry-inducing wishes you've got in mind, you're better off telling your family in advance rather than catching them off guard down the road.
You don't want the state to step in.
Anyone with a nontraditional family should clearly designate whom they want to receive their assets, says Moore.
If you leave it up to the state to decide, then they'll hand over everything to your next of kin. If you'd rather leave your property or assets to someone outside your immediate family or to a nonblood relative, then a will protects them.
You want to keep the family business alive.
If you run a small business, then a will gives you the chance to ensure it lives on long after your passing.
"This can help your beneficiaries avoid costly litigation over what your intentions were and who has rights to what," says Moore. And it'll keep power struggles to a minimum.
You can easily make it part of a routine.
It's been a rocky year, and it's likely consumers have experienced some sort of life change, such as divorce, home loss, marriage, or childbirth.
Make it easy on yourself and incorporate it into your annual tax routine. You'll have all the necessary documents out already, so you might as well kill two birds with one stone.
Control your exit details.
You may not have a say in how you enter the world, but you're in total control of your exit. Use your will to lay out exactly what you have in mind for your memorial service, especially if there are religious requirements or certain family traditions you want to uphold.
"Unless you write down your wishes, your family may not be able to carry them out, either because they have no way of knowing what it is you wanted, or there is disagreement among them," says Moore.
It's not hard to make it legal.
Once you've got your will drafted and signed, you've got one last step to take: making it legal. This varies state by state, but generally you'll need to have at least two witnesses sign the document.
Once you have all signatures needed, scan the document back into your computer for safekeeping and also keep a hard copy on file, advises Moore.
It'll give you peace of mind.
The thought of churning out a list of your postmortem demands can be a little intimidating to most people, says Moore.
"But the process is actually, for a lot of people, a good one because it gives them peace of mind. It also enables them to start thinking about issues important to their loved ones. . . . It's really something you do for the people you care about. It's a selfless act."
— Mandi Woodruff
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