Michael on September 10th, 2007
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. . . that your heirs are going to be happy that you did not have one.

You: But I’m in my late twenties and no one is going to confuse me with a Rockefeller. What’s the rush?

Even if you aren’t likely to die with a large sum of money, a will can be critical.

You: Why?

If you have kids, for example, only a will can determine who will be their guardians in the event you pass on. A will, especially when you have either a family or significant assets (let alone both), is essential.

You: What if I die without a will?

If you die without a will (technically called intestate), then the state government determines everything from who takes care of your children to who gets your money (and things). The odds of the government’s decisions gelling precisely with your wishes aren’t too great.

You: Well I don’t agree with most of the decisions the government is making while I’m alive, so I guess that makes sense.

Fair enough. Don’t miss your chance to leave your family in good shape. Get a will.

We’ll talk about trusts and other estate planning documents, like powers of attorneys and health care documents, in the near future. For now, especially if you have kids and/or significant assets, get a will.

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3 Comments to “Strategy # 31: If there’s no will, there’s no way . . .”

  1. AJ says:

    Thanks! You know, I went to look into this a few years back and the attorney expected me to be 100% ready to write the will…i.e..have all the answers. Probably not a bad expectation, but for a 26 y/o at the time I was lost. Can you outline the top 20 things that people doing this for the first time should look at or ID a resource for us that we can confidently go to? I’d like to get this done in the next year or so.

  2. Michael says:

    It’s too bad that the attorney expected you to have all the answers right away. Although your lawyer should be asking many questions, some of them may require you to think for a bit before providing your answer. A conversation with a legal professional about your last wishes shouldn’t feel like a timed test.

    Still, you’ll ultimately need to answer those questions. But the good news is that a will is a relatively simple document for most people. It answers questions like who should take care of your kids (if you have minor children), who gets your stuff, and who has to administer all this (your executor).

    You asked for resources. I know you just got your copy of Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck. Chapter 9 gives you a good summary of the things you should be thinking about when it comes to estate planning, including a will, a durable power of attorney, health care document, and–perhaps–a revocable trust. Start there and let me know what questions you have.

  3. AJ says:

    Brilliant! Thanks Michael.

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