Most adults recognize the importance of having a Last Will and Testament. But did you know that as many as two-thirds of adult Americans don’t have one? In fact, according to the United Way, 60% of Americans die without a Last Will and Testament. Simple laziness, the uneasiness at the thought of one’s own death, or the cost of an attorney are some of the reasons cited for this sidestepping. For some, as long as they can avoid thinking about it, they can ignore the inevitable. Unfortunately, failing to plan for one’s passing won’t prevent it from happening.
Every adult needs a will
While conventional wisdom might suggest that only the elderly need to have a will, it is advisable for adults of all ages to have one. It is especially important for parents of minor children—even if they don’t have significant assets. Why? Because without a will, the government will decide who will become your children’s guardian. So, in order to assert who will care for your minor children following your death, you must have a Last Will and Testament to uphold your wishes.
Even adults without children should have a Last Will and Testament. You have worked hard all of your life to earn what you have—a home, car, savings. Wouldn’t you want to have a voice in how your hard-earned assets will be distributed in the event of your death? In fact, precious heirlooms that you may wish to give to a friend or family member following your death will instead be sold at auction—and your money will go to the government! Therefore, In order to ensure that your estate is handled according to your wishes, you must have a will.
Keep your will up-to-date
Once you’ve drafted your will, it’s also important to keep it up-to-date. For example, if you have a child after your will was prepared, you should update it to include that child—even if your intentions are that the child will not receive any part of your estate. In most jurisdictions, if you don’t name all of your heirs, they or their legal guardian(s) will have the right to contest your will.
To avoid your will from being contested, it is recommended that you review and update your will accordingly following any of these events:
- You get married or divorced. (A change in marital status may void your will)
- You are unmarried, but have a new partner
- The amount of money and/or property you own changes significantly
- You move to another jurisdiction. (Some states do not recognize out-of-state wills as valid)
- Your executor or a significant beneficiary in your will dies
- There is a birth or adoption of a child in your family
- You change your mind about the provisions in your will
While the legal fees associated with hiring a lawyer to draft a will are a deterrent for many people, there are a number of inexpensive, do-it-yourself options that are available. With a little thought and patience, almost anyone can prepare their own Last Will and Testament. LAWDEPOT is an example of an easy-to-use online resource that provides a low-cost alternative to hiring a lawyer.
There is simply no excuse not to plan for the inevitable—as uncomfortable as it may be to think about. By drafting a Last Will and Testament, you will ensure that your family (and friends) are taken care of, and that your estate is handled according to your wishes—not the will of the government!
Visit LAWDEPOT for more information about drawing up customized legal documents, forms, and contracts without the help of an attorney.