Morbid But True: 7 Reasons You Should Get a Will

You’re young, you’re healthy, and you’ve got big dreams; the last thing you want to think about is what’s going to happen when you die. Imagining yourself drawing your last breath or your family grieving at your funeral can give you a serious case of the creeps. But considering the very real possibility that you could die any day is important so you can prepare for the worst. Even if lawyers also give you the creeps, you don’t want to put off writing your will until it’s too late. Face your fears and consider these seven potential reasons you need to draft a will immediately.

  1. You have children:

    Not only does having a kid change your whole life, it changes your death, too. If both the parents of a child die and there’s no will in place, it’s up to a judge to grant custody. Even though he or she will have your child’s best interest at heart, there’s no way to ensure that your kid will be raised by the person you had hoped unless you make a will and state who should get guardianship in the case of your death. You can consider values, financial restrictions, and the home environment better than a judge can.

  2. You’re single:

    You’re single and don’t have any kids, so you’re free, right? Not exactly. While married people normally get their deceased spouse’s belongings if there’s no will, single people have no way of knowing exactly where their estate will go. Everything you own could get stuck in probate court rather than going immediately to your parents or siblings, and even end up being sold to pay off attorney’s fees. And in the end, whatever is left, could still end up in the hands of relatives you wouldn’t have willed it to.

  3. You have a job, car, or home:

    You have a salary, benefits, and a comfortable home? You need a will. You may think that you don’t have any considerable assets that will need to be divided upon your death, but savings, insurance policies, even furniture count toward your estate. Many financial planners suggest that everyone 18 and older needs to get a will. Consider getting one if you have a bank account and own some big-ticket items like a house or car.

  4. Your relatives like to fight:

    Actually, even if you’ve never seen your relatives at each other’s throats before, an unsettled estate can bring out the worst in people. And if they are fighters, trying to figure out who will get money or sentimental items is bound to start a brawl. By listing all valuable items in your will and, if you want to be extra clear, creating a video tape of you explaining why you made certain choices, you’ll cut down on the number and intensity of fights even if you can’t get rid of the battles completely.

  5. You could end up brain-dead:

     In the event that you’re no longer able to make your own health care decisions, especially if they involve life or death, a living will would tell your loved ones what you want to be done. It’s probably easier to think about dying, since that will happen to everyone. But the possibility that you might be involved in an accident or get a serious illness that could leave you on life support makes it important to create a living will. You can decide who will be given the power to make your health care choices for you, and whether you would want to stay on life support if you were declared brain dead. It also makes things a little easier on family members who may be torn about what to do.

  6. Estate taxes will eat your lunch:

    Estate taxes are complicated and yucky; thinking about them is probably the last way you want to spend an evening. But if you die, these estate taxes could become very important to your loved ones who are getting stiffed because your estate is so highly taxed. There’s no way to get around paying estate taxes completely, but a will and other estate planning techniques will help you lower the taxes your family will have to pay. Ask your lawyer about any suggestions he or she has to reduce estate taxes in your situation, such as a bypass trust which allows you to pass along up to several millions of dollars tax-free to a spouse.

  7. You could die today:

    Should we rub it in some more? You’re not immortal and you could meet your end any day now. Even though you shouldn’t live with this thought in the forefront of your mind, it’s a good enough reason to get your will set up today. We hear about freak accidents all the time — a swan kills a kayaker, a woman suffocates after falling into her recycling bin, a helicopter crashes into a man walking down the street. Though we hope you don’t meet any unexpected fate, the possibility should be enough to get you calling up your lawyer as soon as possible.