According to an article published by Market Watch, about 70% of Americans have neglected writing their wills. There are a few reasons why Americans feel they don’t need a will or see the importance of writing one. One being that many Americans do not believe they are not wealthy enough to worry about drawing up a will. (Some worry about the actual cost of drawing up a will). However, a will does not require you to own an expensive vehicle or a lavish home. No matter how small your assets may be, a will is definitely something to prioritize once you’ve settled into adulthood.
Sometimes, people don’t get around to writing a will prior to death. For example, the late Aretha Franklin’s estate remained in dispute by family members as the famous singer did not officially draft a will in time. According to Fox Business, Franklin died without a formal will in August 2018, and her estate had an estimated worth of $17 million. Not drafting a will before her death has left a family in constant dispute over her estate. In May 2019, three handwritten wills were found in her Detroit Area home – one dated in 2014 and two dated in 2010. However, the validity of the all three wills was questioned.
A common misconception is that you need to be extremely wealthy in order to have a will, or that it is extremely expensive to have one drawn up. This is false – while the average will typically runs from $500 to $1,000, you can get a simple will at a legal clinic for as little as $75 or create your own with an online vendor for even less.
Once you have children it becomes extremely necessary to draw up a will. If you and your spouse die at the same time without one, it falls to a probate court judge to name the guardian of your children. A crucial first step is to name the guardian of your minor children.
Drawing up a will would require you to tally up all your assets, including your house, investments, payout from any life insurance coverage and the value of your retirement plan accounts. (After listing out all these assets, many people find that they’re actually worth a lot more than they thought!) Once all of your assets are listed, you can then decide who gets what and who will be the executor of your estate.
According to Market Watch, if you want a more complex will, you would have to set up a trust which would typically be more costly. They can cost as much as $2,000 to $3,000 or more.
Once you have a will in place, you should try and update it regularly. You will need to amend your will if there are any significant changes in your family’s circumstances such a birth, death or marriage.