Why Creating a Will Should Be a Top Priority for Young Families
You’re young, you’re healthy, you’re just a few years into your marriage, and you have young children. By all estimates you have everything going for you, and rightfully so. The last thing on your mind is creating a will, but that is exactly what you should be doing right now.
Many young families do not have a will or a directive of any sort. Death and its aftermath are not things that many young and healthy couples want to think about, but the consequences of not having a will can be devastating. Without a will or trust in place, the decisions that are most important to you could be left to the whim of the court system, leaving your estate and your children very vulnerable.
While confronting the realities of life and death can be difficult, creating a will is something that every young family should do, and these are some of the reasons why.
What Is a Will?
Simply put, a will is a legal and binding document that specifies what happens to your estate after you die. This includes real property, business assets, bank accounts, investments, and items like jewelry or art. Without a will in place, the probate courts take over and divide the estate as the judge sees fit, which might not align with your choices.
Wills are simple to plan and draw up, and with this will in place your decisions are legal and binding. Please note that some life insurance policies and retirement accounts require you to designate a beneficiary at the time of sign up. These documents will supersede a will so be sure that you take that into consideration.
Distribution of Assets
One of the most important aspects of a will is the distribution of your assets. When you write a will you can be very specific about who gets what and when. Houses and property, bank accounts, and other items will be distributed according to your will after you die, which prevents the courts from stepping in and making your final decision for you.
You can also designate a person or attorney to be the executor of your will, which means that person will follow your instructions for the distribution of your assets over a period of time. This person will also be in charge of clearing up any existing debt or tax liabilities before the distribution of assets occurs. If you have young children designating an executor of your will help ensure that their financial needs will be taken care of as they grow up.
Guardianship of Minor Children
Many young families mistakenly think that because they have no real assets to pass down that a will is not immediately necessary. This is a common misconception but it’s also one that could have dire consequences. In your will you also establish who will take custody of your children, and this is something that you do not want the court deciding for you.
Young parents need to be aware that one of the most important reasons to have a will is this one. While the court may very well choose the same person that would have to raise your children, this is a decision that is best made by you and you alone. No matter if it’s a sibling, a grandparent, or a trusted family friend, when it comes to your children you have the power to decide, in advance, who you trust to take guardianship and you need to take advantage of that.
This person will be making all decisions for your child, including those related to health care and education, as well as providing a safe and loving home and emotional support. While this is not a decision to be made lightly, it is one that you as parents are best equipped to make.
No one likes to think about death, and this is especially true for parents of young children. It can be gut wrenching to consider, but without a will your thoughts and choices have no legal merit. Take the time to sit down with your partner and your attorney and ensure that your decisions regarding your estate and the guardianship of your children are clear and concise. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it also ensures that your choices will be recognized and respected.