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Don’t Die Without A Last Will & Testament

Don’t Die Without A Last Will & Testament

By Dan Green

Your Last Will and Testament is a legal document that makes sure, in the event of your death, your children get placed in the care of a proper guardian; your business assets get passed between family members the way you want; and, that long-term care is handled for your pets and important possessions.

Why Do I Need A Will?

A will is a legal document which gives instructions for after your death. It explains how possessions should be shared among loved ones; and, how children, aging parents, and pets should be cared for after your passing.

The formal name for a will is Last Will and Testament.

If you die without a will, everything you own — including your pets — get turned over to an agent of the government for disbursement.

This is the number one reason to make a Last Will and Testament. You don’t want to die without one. Your will is a form of protection.

As the saying goes: “Make a will, or the state will make one for you.”

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What Can You Do With A Will?

Your Last Will and Testament can be as simple as you want.

If you’re single with no children or pets, you can use a will to pass your money on to parents or siblings; or, to give your jewelry to charity, as examples.

This is the most basic use of a Last Will and Testament. It’s protection for your money and your stuff.

For people with children or pets, wills can get more specific.

A last will and testament can be used to earmark money toward college for kids; to set up a trust to protect your household wealth; and, to ensure that children are placed with a guardian of your choice.

In your will, you can also appoint a new owner for your pet and optionally leave cash to that person for your pet’s care.

Without a will, your pet could be taken from your home, and potentially be euthanized by the state. This is not a good outcome.

There are other things you can do with a will, too:

Your will can also specify whether your remains should be buried or cremated, and how you’d like your funeral to be.

Remember: your will is flexible. You can use it how you want. The most important part, though, is having one.

Without a will, you’re at the mercy of your government.

See What Happens When You Die Without A Will

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The Questions Everybody Asks About Last Will & Testaments

Can I change my last will and testament after I make it?

Yes, you can update your last will and testament after you make it. The generally-recommended practice is to destroy your old will, and then to make a new one. This way, there are no questions about which parts of your will should be enforced, and which parts should be ignored.

You can file the paperwork for a will online, or with an attorney.

Click to do your will online.

Should I do a joint will with my spouse or partner?

In general, it’s a bad idea to do a joint last will and testament with a spouse or partner.

There is very little that a joint will can do that cannot be accomplished with separate, individual wills. Also, joint wills stay in effect until both persons die.

Life changes when a spouse or partner in a relationship dies. The interests of everyone involved are often better served when separate last will and testaments are used.

Joint wills can be limiting.

Do I need a lawyer to prepare my will?

You do not need a lawyer to prepare your last will and testament, although some people like to use them.

The advantage of using a lawyer to prepare your last will and testament is that you can have your legal questions answered by a professional.

It’s probably best to use a lawyer when you’re using a will to set-up long-term care for a loved one; or, to distribute large amounts of money among a family.

For most people, though, wills are more straight-forward. You fill in a form, assign your heirs, and are done in a matter of minutes.

Do-it -yourself wills are equally effective and just as legal as wills that are written by a lawyer. The big difference is that you’re spending less money to get one.

Click here to do your own will.

What is a living will? Is it the same thing as a last will and testament?

A living will is different from a last will and testament.

A living will is directions for a person’s medical care when they’re unable to communicate their wishes to physicians. It has no power after a person’s death.

By contrast, a last will and testament has power in death only. It describes how a person’s possessions and family members should be cared for after that person has passed.

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Do I need a will if I’m single?

If you’re single and at least 18 years old, you should have a last will and testament.

Your last will and testament gives directions for handling your possessions after your death; and can provide instruction for caring for your pets.

A will can also be used to pass your savings to your parents or siblings or friends; or, to donate items or money to a charity that’s important to you.

When you die without a will, none of this is possible.

Do I need a will if I don’t have kids?

You don’t need to have kids in order to make a last will and testament.

The purpose of a will is to tell people what to do with your money, your pets, and your possessions after your death. These instructions matter regardless of whether you have children.

If you don’t have kids, use your will to pass your savings and possessions to friends, parents, and siblings; and, to donate your possessions to charity. Address the needs of your pets in your will, too.

Without a will, none of this is possible. Without a will, the government takes over instead.

If I don’t have money, do I need a will?

You don’t need “lots of money” to make a will. You don’t need any money, really. The biggest reason you get a will is for the protection.

When you die without a will, the government takes possession of your money and your things, and splits them among your family based on a formula. And, your family may not know how you’d like to buried.

Your will provides direction. Regardless of your money, you want to make sure you have one.

How much does it cost to make a last will and testament?

The cost to make a last will and testament varies.

When you write your own will online, you can expect to pay less than $50. There are plenty of services from which to choose, including this fill-in-the-blank template, which can be free to you.

If you prefer to work with an attorney, expect to pay around $400. The attorney will write a simple will for you which includes instructions for your money and possessions; for the care of children and your pets; and, for your funeral.

If your finances include a business and complex financial agreements, expect to pay $1,000 or more to an attorney for the drafting of a will.

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How To Make Your Last Will And Testament

If you’re 18 years or older, have a last will and testament. Your will is the surest way to protect your money and possessions in your death.

And, if you don’t make a will, a government representative will make one for you.

Get started with your will today. You can be ready to go in minutes.

Click to make a Last Will and Testament now.

Written by Dan Green

Dan Green is a mortgage lending expert and the founder of Growella. Prior to Growella, Dan was a six-time, top-producing loan officer; and, ranked repeatedly among the top 1% of loan officers nationwide. Dan's home buying expertise has been in print and on TV with The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Forbes, CNBC, and others.

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