No one wants to think about their death. You don't want to think about your own and you definitely don't want to think about the death of the people you love. That's why most of people don't make a will, at least in early life.
But like so many things in life, avoiding it because it's unpleasant leads to things being worse when the inevitable finally does happen. Everyone dies, no matter how careful they are in life. It's best to be prepared so that your passing or your partners passing doesn't cause any more pain than it has to.
One way to do that is to make a will. Your will tells your family what to do with your estate, your remains, and your assets after you're gone. It's not as complicated to make as you'd think, especially not with the help of a professional. Below are reasons to call someone about making a will, as soon as possible.
You Get to Decide Who Gets What
This is what most people assume a will does, and they're right. Wills do allow you to divide your assets and any money in your accounts to the people you love. But that's not all it is. If you don't delegate different assets to different family members, they have to go through a very lengthy and legally expensive process called probate.
Probate is so complex that there are entire units in college math courses that teach how to properly divide property. Since you probably aren't an expert in property division math, you'll have to pay someone, like a lawyer, who is.
The probate process can cost upwards of $5,000 for a simple case. That's more than it usually takes to put together your will. Don't push that expense onto your loved ones, it'll create resentment.
And that's only if everyone agrees with the first outcome. Siblings can spend months fighting in court. It's a lot easier to say "that's what grandma wanted" than go through a court battle.
It Makes Dictating Custody Easier
The worst thing imaginable, other than losing a child, is having a parent die when a child is young. The absolute worst would be two parents. In that case, your child is in the custody of whomever you appointed to be godfather or godmother, but does the state know that? You need to write these custody directives into your will. Worst case scenario your children could go into the foster system while the court is sorting custody out.
You can even write if-then, statements into your will. An example is, "If (name of guardian) can't take the child in good faith because of whatever reason, then the second choice for custody goes to (another name)". You never know what's going to pop up in life, so make sure you leave your children and loved ones with options.
It Reduces Estate Taxes
If you have a sizeable estate including your home, your assets, and whatever stock you have, then you have to pay taxes on the total to the federal government. The Federal cutoff is 11.4 million or more is subject to taxes, while there are a dozen or so states that have their own rules. When you create a will and distribute assets, it's like dividing your estate. You pay fewer taxes in the end.
You can Inherit and Disinherit Based on Circumstances
Let's say your daughter is part of a growing group of millennials that don't want children. You're determined she'll change her mind, but unfortunately you may not get to find out. You can make a statement in your will that says something like, "x amount of money is set aside for daughter's child. If she doesn't have a child by the year ___, then the total amount shall be transferred to her name".
This is your money, so you get to create the contingencies. While you have the right to be specific, try not to be petty. You want to go into your afterlife knowing that those you left behind love and respect you.
You Can Make Gifts and Donations
People often leave certain sums or even percentages of their estates to charities or educational institutions. If there's a lot of money, a grant can even be set up with the funds. This way you get to decide who benefits from the money you worked hard for all your life, and help the mission of organizations close to your heart.
You can even leave specific assets to charities, like your home or your car if you think they'd be of use to them. But know that by leaving something to an organization, you're giving them the right to sell the asset if they feel that's more appropriate.
By choosing to make a will, you don't put any added stressors on your family in their state of sadness. The time and money it takes to make a will is worth not having your loved ones suffer any more than they already will from your passing.
Now that you know the reasons to make a will, it's time to get started. All you need to do is contact a family attorney who has experience in end-of-life planning. They'll help you name all of your assets, and walk you through the rest of the planning process. Don't leave your family guessing. Let them mourn in peace by creating a will.