I want to follow up last week’s true story about Carolyn with some simple information about why you need a will. I know what you are thinking right now … “I’m young and in perfect health; why do I need to rush and prepare a will?” No one is guaranteed the length of their days on earth; accidents and illness can come suddenly. A will is necessary even if you feel you have nothing of value. You probably have sentimental items that you wish to give to specific heirs.
Preparing a will is a fairly simple process that doesn’t have to be any more complicated or time-consuming than going out to lunch with a friend.
A last will and testament is a legal document that gives clear instructions about what to do with your property after your death and how death taxes, if any, are to be paid, along with final expenses that would include any debt and administrative costs. It states who is to receive the property and in what amounts.
A will may also be used to name a guardian for any minor children or to create a trust to handle an estate inheritance to protect spendthrift children or others. Finally, and this is important in the case of your parents, a will can be used to name a personal representative or executor to handle property and affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
You do not have to hire an attorney to make out a will, though I highly recommend it. The law is multifaceted, and all kinds of scenarios can erupt. Depending on the complexity of the will, it will initially cost a few hundred dollars to have an attorney explain your options and then draw up the document.
But what Carolyn had written on notebook paper in her own handwriting could have served as a legal will if it were witnessed and notarized … and found. When you consider the years and tears that your heirs and family will endure if you pass away without a will, a few hundred dollars and a legal will becomes the most loving investment you can make in family harmony and peace.
© 2010 Julie Hall