I already have a will, and the reason is because I know that I most certainly will go someday, and I don’t know when and how.
According a to 2007 study by the self-help Web site Legalzoom, 70.2% of American adults overall and 74.4% of parents with children under 18 had no will or other estate documents. This is kind of a scary thought — being a parent actually means that you are LESS LIKELY to have a will. Given that the chances of a person dying someday is 100%, I thought that this was interesting. Wouldn’t the assumption that the parents would die before their own children, not the other way around, be a good reason for more parents to actually have a will?
As I read on I find out the reason:
“Nearly one out of five respondents with minor children cited guardianship issues as a deterrent to preparing a Last Will. Similarly, 42.3 percent of respondents had not decided who would serve as a guardian to their children in the event of their death. As a result, 74.4 percent of parents still did not have a Last Will and Testament, despite the fact that 79 percent of parents noted the importance of creating this legal document.”
Wow. That is a terrible reason to not have a will… especially considering if the parents do not specify arrangements for their children, the decision is left to the state. The children will be ward of the state until the courts can make that decision for you. The idea of my children spending even one minute is foster care is scary to me.
There were other reasons cited for not having a will — cost and time… so I did a bit more research on this one.
To prepare a will with a traditional attorney costs about $700. Legalzoom costs about $80, Nolo sells Quicken Willmaker software for about $39, and there are other sites that offer online forms for as little as $15. You will still need to get the document notarized, and that usually will run $10 to $20. As for the time, I think the most time consuming aspect comes from knowing what you want and making a decision, though a will can be changed so it’s not as if there is no flexibility.
Given that parents can easily spend $10,000 in the first year of a child’s life alone, spending even $700 to prepare a will doesn’t really seem like it should be so hard. Cost and time are simply not good enough reasons to not have a will done. My husband and I spent a total of 5 hours over the span of 2 days deciding the issue of guardianship for our unborn child in the event of our deaths. The decision took less than a full day’s work.
The most compelling reason for me to revise this will in preparation for the birth of my child is: If I die when my child is young, this will be the most (and perhaps the only) concrete evidence of my love for my child. Nothing else I do will matter more as they won’t really be able to remember very much of me if they are too young. The fact that I thought enough of my children to take the time to prepare a will and make sure that they are taken care of even without me is something that will stay with them long after I am gone.
After all, the most important thing that parents can teach and give their children is the ability to get along without them.