Do You Need a Last Will and Testament? Yes

Our own mortality is always difficult to accept. In our early years we think that it will never happen. It’s too far off to even consider. In our middle years we know how close the end might be and then we refuse to acknowledge it and therefore ignore the dire circumstances this ignorance may cause.

But no matter what our age, the end could be right around the corner and if we don’t prepare our survivors for our own demise, no one else will. It is a process that needs to be dealt with at all costs.

Thinking that only the well off should have a last will and testament is a common misconception. Anyone who owns anything – a watch, furniture, a dog, or even a small savings account – should have the right to decide what happens to it upon his death.

For those with under age children, a last will and testament is especially important. In some states children can become wards of the state without the proper direction in the form of a will. For instance, in the state of Florida, an unmarried woman with a child might assume that her partner would automatically have the responsibility of raising his child – but that’s not so. Even if the couple lives together, Florida will assume custody of the child unless there is a will specifying that the surviving “friend” is to get permanent custody. Without the will, the child is taken by the state and future arrangements must be dealt with in court.

In other states anyone who dies “intestate” (without a valid will) leaves a real mess behind. Some states split the estate – no matter what it is – between a surviving spouse and minor children. If real estate is involved, the surviving spouse may be forced to sell the house in order to provide trusts for her children according to state law! A simple last will and testament could have stated that the spouse gets everything.

If you happen to be married but you don’t have joint accounts with your spouse, you’d better leave a last will and testament or else your surviving spouse could have an awful time trying to claim what is rightfully hers! And if you live in one of those states described above, with no will, the state will decide who gets what – and it might include people you never intended on sharing your hard earned money with.

Long gone are the days when you need to sit with an attorney for hours to draw up your last will and testament. Online sources provide excellent quality, low cost, legal documents where you can simply fill in the blanks. Once your will has been properly witnessed and notarized, let your family know where the copies are.

Need to make some changes? No problem. Add a sheet of paper, date it, witness it, and have it notarized. Make a note on the original copy of your last will and testament in the original section stating that a codicil exists.

A last will and testament also precludes anyone you don’t want to inherit from causing a problem. For instance, if you definitely don’t want your nephew Steven getting his hands on a penny, you need to stipulate that in the will or else he could hold up the entire process with legal proceedings that could in effect bankrupt the estate, negating everyone’s inheritance.

For anyone over the age of 18, a last will and testament is a must. Once you are no longer the responsibility of your parents, you are responsible for your own money and possessions. And you have the right, and the obligation, to manage the process to alleviate further grief and confusion at your passing.