Sunday, March 11, 2012
Where There's a Will...
Now – raise your hand if you have a will.
Well, the good news is that you are not alone. It’s estimated that 57% of parents do not have a will in place. I know. I understand. It’s difficult to think about it and frankly – in the back of your mind you’re thinking that you really don’t need one. Not yet, anyway. I mean, what are the chances, right?
The thing is – there’s nothing like having children to force you to think about your own mortality. We know we’re not going to live forever, obviously, but for many of us, there is the assumption that we can expect to live to see our kids have their own kids and possibly beyond.
But what if?
Maybe you’re thinking that you don’t really have any money or other assets to bequeath, so a will seems pointless. It’s not always about the money.
Let’s say you’ve had a discussion with your parents. It’s understood that if anything ever happens to you, they will step in and care for your children. But do you have that in writing? Is it legal? What if something did happen to you and it all goes crazy and your in-laws who live five states away and have never spent more than 10 minutes with your kids end up with them. It could never happen, right?
What if you’re divorced or a single parent? Do you have a plan in place?
Creating your last will and testament does not need to be a lengthy and complicated process. There are many ways to accomplish this task ranging from online software to enlisting the services of an attorney. There is truly an option for any budget. As I mentioned before, the most important designation involved in your will, as a parent, is assigning guardianship of your child(ren). It can literally take about 20 minutes to take care of this important administrative task. You take care to wear clean underwear in the event of a car accident, don’t you? So there’s really no excuse for not having a will.
Also? Don’t forget the pets. If you have pets, you should designate who will care for them, should you become unable. Many well loved and cared for pets end up dumped at shelters because families of the deceased don’t really know what to do. Again – a simple legal document can take care of that for you.
Honestly, having a will is just a good idea in general, even if you don’t have kids. You’d be surprised at who may come out of the woodwork to battle over your ceramic bunny collection. Don’t think it can’t happen.
If you don’t have an attorney or prefer not to use one, there are online services and even software that will assist you in creating your will. Requirements vary by state. In many states, all you need are a couple of witnesses and sometimes a Notary public and voilà! You have a will. Not free, but you can get pretty close.