As a society, we like to avoid the thought of death. It’s an inevitability that we know exists, but that we’d rather ignore until it affects us personally.
The reality is that if you avoid dealing with death until it has impacted your life, your family can be left devastated.
At Willful, we understand this first hand. We suffered the effects of a lack of preparation in the face of death. We were left to sort out the pieces of an estate while mourning a loss. Coming out of this experience, we wanted to ensure no one else would suffer this fate. We struck out to create a company that would create peace of mind, even in the most difficult moments of life.
Willful was born to facilitate the planning and preparation of wills. It was developed to make wills more accessible to everyone, and to drive security and peace of mind in the moments that we have together.
We’ve outlined the top 5 reasons you should have a will, and how to create peace of mind in the face of death.
Distribute your estate as you see fit
There’s a common misconception that if you don’t have a will, that the government takes possession of your assets upon death. While we’re not sure how this theory emerged, it’s certainly not true.
The reality is, if you don’t leave legal direction, your assets will be distributed by the government. Based on your family structure and dependents, the government will dictate upon a generic method of distributing your estate.
This leads to infighting amongst family members, as feelings of entitlement emerge, minors are left hanging in the balance, and legal battles ensue. This is the last burden a family needs while morning in the wake of a loss.
Reduce legal fees
In the wake of a close family death, the last thing anyone should have to take on is additional expenses. Your loved ones can be forced to incur additional legal costs to appoint an executor and distribute to the proper beneficiaries.
Develop a Power of Attorney for personal care (living will)
Even in the preparation of a will, many people overlook the need for a living will. Consider you’re in an accident that will eliminate your quality of life. You’re in a coma, on a feeding tube, or dependant on a respirator. In this case, many families want to hold out hope. A spouse may know your last wishes, and understand that you don’t want to live this way, but parents or siblings may not agree. Still, you’re not able to choose your fate.
The highly publicized case of Terri Schiavo is an example of how a family can suffer when a living will is not in place. Terri suffered cardiac arrest in 1990 and was kept alive on life support for 15 years. During this time Terri’s husband and parents fought at odds to keep Terri alive or allow her to pass away. In a persistent vegetative state for the duration of those 15 years, Terri was unable to communicate her choice to live or die.
This case, although uncommon in length, is still something that many families struggle with daily. The simple act of legally documenting your last wishes can save your family the hardships of arguing over your right-to-live or die.
Take care of minor children
If you’re a parent with young children, their well-being can hang in the balance if you suffer a life-altering injury or death. Young children are the most vulnerable family members when suffering from the loss of a parent. Often, if proper plans were not put in place. A court will have final say to decide who is guardian for children in any case, but having an appointment in a will provides interim guardians (and a court will likely appoint these guardians unless there is a good reason not to).
Conversely, young children can inherit large sums of inheritance as soon as they reach legal age of majority where they’re not prepared to save and invest long-term. Developing a well-thought out legal will ensures that your estate is distributed to your children at the time of life that you see fit, in the amounts that make sense for those stages. Additionally, leaving their inheritance in-trust can help to mitigate many of these issues.
Give your family peace of mind
The death of a loved -one can be one of the most traumatic experiences in life. Preparing for the worst provides a safety net for your family as they grieve. The benefits don’t end with financial security and clarity. Do you want part of your estate to go to charity? Do you want to give your favorite guitar to your best friend?
Developing a legal will sheds light onto your last wishes and funeral arrangements, alleviating much of the decision-making that can burden a family in the time of grieving.