You’ve probably heard before that you need a will. You’ve probably also questioned whether you really need one. There’s a common misconception that making a will is only necessary for those who are older and wealthy. We’re here to debunk that myth and explain why every adult needs to make a will.
People often believe that they don’t need a will if they don’t have major assets. It’s true that a will is important once you own expensive assets like a home, but it’s equally as important to plan for sentimental assets like clothing, jewelry, and books. Having a will prevents confusion and arguments that can arise among loved ones when your wishes aren’t made clear. In fact, when Robin Williams passed away, the tuxedo he wore at his wedding and personal photographs from his 60th birthday were the center of a legal dispute between his wife and adult children. It’s a reminder of how necessary it is to make a plan for sentimental belongings, which can mean more to loved ones than those of financial value.
A will isn’t just about distributing your belongings. It also allows you to choose who will become a guardian for your minor children and leave funds for their care if something were to happen to you. Making a plan for your children in your will prevents conflict between loved ones who have different opinions on who you would have chosen, and associated delays and costs. While no one wants to think about a tragic event that could leave a child without their parents, we often hear from families that having a plan in place for the unexpected provides peace of mind knowing their children will be protected.
If you only have dependents with fur and four legs, it’s also beneficial to make a will to name a pet guardian and leave funds for their care. You might assume that a friend or family member would step up to care for your pet, but that’s not always the case. Including your pet in your will and discussing your plans with loved ones ensures that they’ll be cared for after you’re gone.
Did you know that you can leave a piece of property, cash, or percentage of your estate to a charity or organization you care about through your will? A legacy gift, also known as a bequest, plays a key role in supporting charitable organizations while also allowing you to make a positive impact on future generations. Legacy giving is a simple way to leave a lasting impact of generosity (and it might encourage others to give back too).
It’s well-known that having a will can prevent any anxiety over your finances, but there are many misconceptions surrounding what happens when a person dies without a will. While it varies depending on where you live (in the U.S. and Canada, your estate is distributed to heirs by the court according to a formula), this process is nearly always slow and costly. It also creates an opportunity for disputes to arise between loved ones. While no one wants to think about their family arguing over their estate, it happens more than you might think when your wishes aren’t made clear. Having a will and all of your documentation in one place helps to avoid these complications during an already difficult and emotional time.
While we can’t predict the future, we can plan for the unexpected. Having a legal will provides peace of mind in knowing that the things you’ve worked hard for in life and the people you love will be protected. While it can be uncomfortable to think about your own mortality or difficult to talk to your family about money, you can make your will online in less than 20 minutes using platforms like Willful or Trust & Will. Taking a few minutes now will help save your loved ones months, or even years, of delays down the road.
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Erin Hebert is on the Marketing team at Willful, a platform that makes it easy and affordable to create emergency planning documents in less than 20 minutes. She helps educate Canadians on the importance of estate planning.