It’s something parents shudder to think about: a will. That’s probably why more than half of Americans with children do not have a legal will. Parents love their children, and the concept of dying and not being there for their children is simply not an option they consider. Establishing a will is a vital part of protecting your financial legacy and there is no benefit in delaying it.
A recent Forbes article, titled "6 Questions About Wills You Were Afraid To Ask," gives us some answers to several often-avoided questions to help alleviate some trepidation over wills and to motivate you into creating one for your family. Here are a few of them:
What's a will? A will is a basic estate planning document that details exactly where you want your assets distributed when you die.
Why should I draft a will? There's really no bona fide financial, social, emotional, or any other reason to not draft a will. This sometimes can be difficult for parents to think about, but creating a will allows you peace of mind in knowing that your wishes will be heeded. Without a will, there's a much greater chance of hard feelings and disputes among your family. Along with a will, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine if other planning documents, such as a living will, power of attorney, durable power of attorney (with health care), and a living trust are necessary.
How are assets distributed? If you identified specific gifts you want distributed (like Grandma's broach) or a conditional gift ($X to your daughter when she reaches a certain age), you can apportion the rest of your estate in shares among your heirs. This can be divided equally or in percentages. The original article also recommends that you select two executors in case your first choice is unable to fulfill an obligation.
What about the children? An extremely critical task in creating a will is selecting a guardian for your minor children. If you die and fail to do so, the court will decide who takes care of your children. You should make sure beforehand that he or she is able and willing to take on this responsibility.
Reference: Forbes (October 30, 2014) "6 Questions About Wills You Were Afraid To Ask"