If you want more control over your money and estate after you pass, then you need to make a will. Most people put off writing their wills because they don’t want to think about death. In fact, according to a 2020 survey by Caring.com nearly 70% of Americans don’t have an up-to-date will. However, the truth is that everyone should have a will — even if you’re young and healthy. It’s better to prepare for the unexpected than to put your loved ones through the stress of figuring out your estate after you’re gone. Plus, in today’s world, it’s incredibly easy to make a legally valid will online with free self-help will-writing tools, such as FreeWill.
DID YOU KNOW?
Why should you make a will?
When you die without a will, state laws decide who gets your assets, such as your bank accounts, real estate, and other personal property. This might not always follow your wishes. For example, if you want your house to go to your unmarried partner, it could end up going to your children instead.
In your will, though, you can choose whether your spouse gets your bank and retirement accounts, if you want your son to get your car, or if your record collection goes to your sister.
Deciding all of these things in advance will save your loved ones time and stress, prevent family disputes, and make your wishes clear. It will also streamline the probate process for your estate — the legal process of distributing your assets after your death.
5 important things you can include in your will
Many people don’t think they have enough property or assets to make a will. However, choosing who gets your assets isn’t the only thing you can use your will for. You can also:
- Name an executor: This is the person who will carry out your wishes as you’ve written them in your will. Choose someone you trust to distribute your assets properly.
- Take care of your minor children or pets: In your will, you can nominate guardians for your minor children and name beneficiaries for your pets, so you know that someone you trust will be taking care of them.
- Write funeral wishes: Leaving instructions for how you want your funeral to go can lessen the burden on your loved ones and give them guidance during a difficult time.
- Support your favorite causes: You can leave money or property to charities in your will, so that you will have a positive impact on the world long after you’re gone.
- Leave instructions for digital assets: Prefer that your Facebook account gets shut down after you’re gone? You can ensure that with your will by leaving instructions for how your executor should handle your digital assets. These can include email and social accounts, digital photos and videos, or even domain names you own.
DID YOU KNOW?
It’s easy to make a will online
There’s a lot to plan for around retirement, from Social Security to Medicare to estate planning. But online tools are making these traditionally thorny issues easier than ever. Social Security calculators allow you to calculate your benefits by answering just a few questions. And many online sites now allow you to make a will in just a few minutes. As long as your estate is pretty straightforward, self-help will sites are a great option. While most of these sites charge for their tools, we recommend FreeWill, which is entirely free to use. On FreeWill, you can create a legally valid will by filling out their simple online questionnaire, downloading your finished will forms, and following your state-specific instructions for witnessing and signing your will.
Prefer to see attorney?
Many people use online will sites to first create their forms, and then bring them to an attorney. This can save you time and money if you have a large estate, children with special needs, complicated family dynamics, or just prefer the comfort of an experienced attorney’s help.