Too many young families do not have wills. Actually, too many families in general do not have wills. Dave Ramsey reports that 70% of Americans do not have a will at the time of their death. Why? It is a combination of business and the feeling of invincibility. Young families think that once they get older they will take the time to prepare a will. They think that this time is better spent planning for retirement and other such activities. As a result, preparing a will is a task that is often neglected even though it is extremely important.
Common reasons why young families don’t prepare wills:
- People hate thinking about death. They’d rather focus on the positive aspects of life.
- Death happens to old people, so most people delay preparing a will until they are older.
- Making a will forces people to address their own mortality and some are not emotionally prepared to face the possibility of death.
- Some people think they don’t have enough money to make a will.
- Preparing a will is too complicated.
Some of these issues are psychological; others are financial. I’ll help you with some of the financial parts and let you work through the psychological parts on your own.
Let me assure you, preparing a will is not complicated, and a will does a lot more than split up your money. A will also tells the courts who you want raising your kids.
Remember: A will is one of the most loving acts a young father and mother can do. In the case of an untimely death, you will leave your family with some direction and assistance.
3 Crucial Will Related Decisions For Young Families
Who will you designate as the guardian?
The guardian is the person who would have custody over your children if both of the parents passed away. If you do not prepare a will or designate a guardian, then by default, you’re giving the court permission to choose a guardian for your children if you and your spouse pass away.
The person you designate as the guardian should be someone who shares your family values and who you know loves your children.
Important: Be sure to ask potential guardians if they are willing. Guardianship is voluntary, so the courts will not require them to keep your children. For this reason you need to know that potential guardians are willing.
What will happen to your estate?
You will need to decide who gets your possessions and when they can access your estate.
In the case of smaller estates, it is not uncustomary to allow the guardians to use your estate to help pay the cost for raising your kids. See this related article regarding how much money to leave your children’s guardians in your will.
If you have a larger estate you will also need to decide when and how your kids will receive their share of the estate. It is recommended that you state your wishes using specific ages and percentages. For example, when Little Johnny turns 18 he has access to 50% of his inheritance and to the other 50% when he turns 21.
When you have additional children you will want to be sure to update your will.
Who will be the executor?
The executor may be the same as the guardian. This could be a good idea if the estate is smaller. It will make things simpler for the guardian/executor.
For most families a personal friend could server as the executor. Look for someone who is trustworthy, has a solid financial foundation, loves details, and is financially organized.
Once again, it is suggested that you confirm that the person is willing to serve as the executor.
With larger estates you may consider a paid professional to serve as the executor.
The simplest way to draft a will:
Once you have made these important decisions, it is time to actually draft the will.
For simpler wills (smaller estates) using some type of will maker service is advisable. I used US Legal Forms to prepare my last state specific will. Once you buy the product they walk you through all the important steps. For larger estates or more complicated estate plans, you may be better off going with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning, trusts, and related areas.
Once the will is completed it should be notarized, registered with the county clerk (depending on the requirements of your home state), and kept in a safe place. Be sure a trusted friend knows where the will is and also holds a copy of the will.
Wills are not fun to prepare, but they are crucial. Most importantly, they are a blessing to your family.