Updated July 31, 2023
After a long day, you’d probably rather kick up your feet and watch TV than discuss what will happen if your cat Meatball outlives you. No one likes talking about Wills because no one likes thinking about death—and we don’t blame you.
However, this mindset about Wills has led many people to fail to create one, despite it being one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Start thinking about all the things you own and ask yourself: “Do I need a Will?” Below, we dispel a few common myths about Wills, discuss who needs a Will, and explore why you shouldn’t wait to create one.
What Is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that states your intentions for the distribution of your property and assets after you die. If you have children, a Will also outlines who will care for them if something happens to you.
What is a Will and Testament?
A Will and Testament is simply the longer name for a Will! That’s all there is to it.
What Does a Will Do?
A Will takes care of your possessions, finances, and loved ones after your passing. You can specify which items go to which family members; how and where to distribute your wealth; whether you want to donate, sell, or gift possessions and money to certain organizations; and what will happen to any minor children.
Who Needs a Will?
Despite what you see in movies, Wills aren’t just for wealthy folks whose greedy family members are contesting a Will while fighting over their belongings. Everybody over the age of 18 needs a Will, regardless of their worth on paper. Creating a Will—regardless of your age or financial situation—ensures that you have a say in who your estate will pass to and how your pets, property and minor children will be taken care of.
Listen as LegalShield Chief Legal Officer, Keri Norris, explains the importance of having a Will:
Do I Need a Will if I Am Married?
As we said above: Everybody needs a Will! It’s especially important if you are married. In the event of your passing, your Will can ensure that your spouse receives everything you want them to have of your estate.
When Should I Make a Will?
If you aren’t 18 yet, start planning to make one as soon as you hit that milestone! If you are over 18, now is the time. Consider creating or updating your Will anytime an important event happens in your life, such as a large purchase, life change like marriage, divorce, adoption, etc., or a move to a different area.
Why Do I Need a Will? 6 Reasons to Create One.
1. Get the Final Say.
If you pass away without a Will, you’re considered “intestate.” This means the laws of the state will direct how to divide up your estate, without your input. If you die without a Will and have no heirs, your estate could pass to the state. You should have the ultimate say in what to do with your assets and how your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass.
2. Minimize Family Conflicts.
We’ve all heard of cases where the surviving family members must grieve while squabbling with their siblings. Upon your death, your loved ones will want to mourn—not referee arguments. When it comes to your wishes, there should be no room for misinterpretation that could lead to conflict or legal action.
3. Ensure Your Loved Ones Are Cared for.
If you have minor children, your Will also designates who will take care of them if something happens to you. Without a Will, the court must decide who is appropriate to be your children’s guardian—again, without your input. Having a Will makes it clear who you trust to become the guardian of your children. Your Will can also designate who will care for your beloved pets, who deserve all the best in life too.
4. Create a Lasting Legacy.
Whether you wish to leave everything to your children and spouse or donate it to a charity with a mission that matters to you, a Will gives you the final say. Create a legacy that gives your life meaning instead of letting the state decide who will receive your assets.
5. Live for Today and Plan for Tomorrow.
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. It’s important to live in the moment but it’s also important to plan for the future—even if you’re still young and full of life. While some younger adults start a Will when they become financially independent from their parents, often in their early 20s, others create one when they get married or have children.
6. Take Care of Your Mental Health.
Another reason you should have a Will is for your own mental health. As detailed in this Fortune Magazine article in which LegalShield was prominently featured, 54% of Americans don’t have a Will or trust, according to a LegalShield survey. And those without a Will are twice as likely to feel stressed and afraid as those with Wills. So let there be no doubt: a Will is in your best interest and your family’s best interest.
Learn how to create a Will online.
Reasons not to Have a Will
There are no reasons why you should not have a Will! Just remember that a Will doesn’t not help you if you become incapacitated. A Will only goes into effect once you die. So if you are planning to make arrangements for life after you become unable to care for yourself, don’t focus on a Will; focus on Powers of Attorney and living trusts.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?
You don’t need a lawyer to create an official Will. However, it is much easier to have expert legal assistance as you work through this important process. A lawyer can explain the legalese to you, as well as offer guidance on what to include in your Will.
LegalShield offers assistance with Will creation for an affordable, monthly fee when you become a LegalShield Member. Your LegalShield provider lawyer will assist with each step as you create your Will and update it to reflect life changes. You can even access our simple Will questionnaire to help you get started.
How to Write a Will in 3 Easy Steps
There are many things to consider when writing your Will and we’re here to help. When you become a LegalShield Member, you get access to estate planning advice at no additional cost beyond your monthly membership fee. Your LegalShield lawyer can help you draft a Will, a Power of Attorney or an Advanced Healthcare Directive (also known as a Living Will) in just five business days in a few simple steps:
1. Answer a Few Questions About Your Estate and Belongings.
For example, who should receive your wedding ring? Who would you trust to care for your children? Who is the best person to take care of your beloved pet? Who will inherit your assets and wealth?
2. Fill out the Will Questionnaire in the LegalShield Mobile App.
Upload it directly to your provider law firm. Next, your estate planning lawyers will provide consultation, assist you with the process and make sure everything complies with state laws.
Your Provider Lawyer Prepares Your Will.
You can update your Will every year if needed. There are many reasons to update your Will and your lawyer will work with you to ensure that your changing life situation is reflected in your final wishes.
Speak with a LegalShield Lawyer to Get Started.
Although it seems daunting and depressing, writing your Will is essential. When you become a LegalShield Member, you’ll get access to a lawyer who can help you handle the estate planning process from start to finish.
For an affordable monthly rate, you’ll even have 24/7 legal advice available for covered legal emergencies. When it comes to estate planning, having that kind of support will ensure that you have the final say at the end—and that you leave behind a lasting legacy.
Our Last Will and Testament lawyers can help you create a Will online now.
LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at legalshield.com for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.