Perhaps unconsciously, we often think we have years to write a will, but if you or a loved one are entering hospice, the time to write a will and protect your family and your assets is now. A will is a legal document that offers certain protections. Without one, the people closest to you might not be taken care of the way you would want them to be.
If you aren’t quite convinced, here are 6 key reasons you should start working on your will now.
1. Protect minor children
If you have minor children, a legal will allows you to designate a specific guardian for your children, which ensures that the people you want raising your child will be able to do so. Without a designated guardian, the state decides who will raise your children. The state may not choose the people you would have chosen. Additionally, if you want to leave possessions or property to your minors in a trust, you can protect their financial security by outlining your wishes in the will.
2. Leave instructions about your goods and assets
A will gives you the ability to decide what happens to your worldly possessions. Without a will, your state laws will determine how your goods and assets are distributed, and those laws may not be in accordance with your wishes. Creating a will ensures that your wishes are known and followed.
3. Eliminate arguments
To avoid the possibility of arguments or disputes, it’s best to clearly outline what you want done with your estate (e.g. home, car, funds, possessions, care of dependents, etc.). If no one knows your wishes, there’s room for dispute. While you may not be a super star or celebrity (not many of us are), we only have to look at the cases of Prince, Aretha Franklin, or Sonny Bono to see just how complicated things can become without a will.
4. Clarify questions of inheritance for a blended family
If you are part of a blended family, a legal will may be even more necessary. While many blended families enjoy loving relationships, not all do. If you have parented children who are not your legal heirs, you may wish to add them into your will. If you have legal heirs that you do not wish to leave assets to, you may need to exclude them from your will. Either way, blended families can introduce a few challenges, so it’s better to write a legal will so that everyone is clear about your wishes.
5. Keep things simple for your family
Your family is grappling with the pain and confusion that comes along with losing a loved one. To keep things simple for those you love, put things in writing. With a will, your family can just get things taken care of. Without a will, the probate process can become complicated very quickly. Keep things simple for everyone by making your wishes known.
6. Ensure that your wishes are followed
If you don’t have a spouse or children at this time, things may not be so clear-cut. In this case, think about whom you would want to benefit. Perhaps you’d like to give goods or assets to friends, extended family members, or a charity. No matter what you want, writing a will now can make a big difference in the lives of others.
To start, speak with an estate attorney. They will know all the ins and outs of completing a will in your state. However, if you can’t afford the services of an attorney, there are will writing services online. If possible, ask a lawyer to review any document you draw up.
In addition to writing a will, it’s always good to consider whether now is the right time to put together advance care directives, powers of attorney, and advance funeral plans. In addition to a will, these documents create a net of safety and peace of mind for your loved ones.