Real talk: You need a will. I recognize that no one likes talking about death and that raising children is already expensive, but that doesn’t change the fact that you still need a will. LegalZoom polled people and discovered that 62% of Americans do not have a will. People assume they’ll have time later, that they can’t afford one, or that they only need one if they’re “rich.”
All of these assumptions are wrong.
You need a will.
I am not a lawyer, nor do I have any sort of legal experience, but when my husband and I sat down with a lawyer to create our will back in 2019, it was not as overwhelming, macabre, or expensive as I thought it would be. Our lawyer broke it down step by step, never dwelled on the context of death, and charged us $1,200 from start to finish.
Below is a breakdown of the basics on what to expect when you meet with a lawyer (or complete it through a website) and questions you’ll want to discuss with your significant other or a good friend/family member.
The BIG question: Who will take care of your children if you die?
There will never be a “right” answer to this question because YOU are the best person to take care of your child(ren). There will only be an answer that makes you feel comfortable and gives you peace that should the worst happen, your children will be loved and cared for. This question was THE question that motivated us to create a will. It’s not the only one, though, that you’ll discuss. This leads me to the next important question to discuss…
If both you and your partner cannot make health-care decisions, who will step in and make the decisions for you?
This person is going to be your medical power of attorney. You should let your partner know your wishes: what life-saving measures do you and do you not want?. Once again, not fun stuff to talk about, but the person who becomes your medical power of attorney needs to know your wants in case someday you are ever in a situation where these decisions have to be made, but you can no longer communicate.
Who will take care of your finances if you no longer can?
You will also need to grant someone to be your financial power of attorney. So, yes, after talking about dying or needing life-saving care, you’ll now need to have a money talk with your significant other. Luckily, this one doesn’t need to be too complicated. Your financial power of attorney is the one who will be granted the ability to make financial decisions if you are unable to do so. For example: Paying or handling your mortgage/rent.
And the last big question to think about: Who will ensure your children are financially provided for after you die?
Going along with a financial power of attorney, we also had to choose someone who would be in charge of our life insurance should we both pass away. This person is not the same as your financial power of attorney. This person is only called upon should you and your partner pass away, leaving money for your children through life insurance or other means. Our lawyer advised us to pick someone different from our daughter’s potential guardian so that two different parties were working together for her future.
Those are the big decisions my husband and I had to make when we created our will. I am sure there are other important choices to make as everyone’s circumstances are different, but don’t let those scare you either. You are raising a child; at this point you can do anything! Don’t be a part of the 62% of the population who does not have one. Find the time, recognize there are economical ways to complete one, and that, no, you don’t need to be rich to need one.
You (yes, YOU) need a will.