Aren’t you just loving the estate-planning aspects of our Take Back Your Finances 52-Week Challenge? We know, dumb question – no one we have met really LOVES this aspect of getting your financial house in order.
But we can assure you that not only is it critical, you actually will love life a little more after you have completed these tasks. Peace of mind brings so much less stress and puts worry aside; it really is worth the pain of thinking and dealing with it. Just knowing that you have a plan for your estate, especially for your family, brings that sweet peace in your life.
I hope we have convinced you about the importance of it all.
So if you remember from last week, we talked about the critical importance of life insurance and ins and outs associated with life insurance.
This week, we want to talk about the Last Will and Testament. Everyone should have one, but especially anyone that has a spouse or minor children. If you have the money, going to an actual attorney and having one created is the best option by far. But for many of us, the fact that it can cost so much to go this route often means we don’t do anything until we can afford it.
But there is an in-between option – in between doing nothing and paying an attorney….doing it yourself. Your words are just as binding if they are not on the letterhead of an attorney. And a Do-It-Yourself Will and Testament is better than no Will and Testament for sure. Then, when you have the money you can go to an attorney and create the best one for your family. In the meantime…you just need to do something!
So first, for those of you that have the money, then we encourage you to meet with an attorney as this week’s task. Or at least schedule and appointment and start working on that process. Because as was just stated, an attorney is going to help you figure out the exact ins and outs and legalese and give you the most security that your family will be protected.
But if you don’t have the money right now, let’s talk about resources you can use to create your own. We are going to be careful to give too much advice in this area as we are not legal experts – we are just a couple trying to help you learn from our mistakes and our attendance in the school of hard knocks. We have doctorates in this school. 🙂 So we are going to refer you to those that can claim to be more of an expert in estate planning; we’re here to give you the nudge in the right direction!
First, making your own Will and Testament is going to require a thoughtful process for even simple estates. IF you have a lot of assets or a complicated situation, your best bet really may be finding an attorney that can draft one up for you. But for most people, you will probably be fine creating your own.
Second, we think it is pretty obvious as to WHY you want to make sure you have a Last Will and Testament, but in case not, here’s an article from Dave Ramsey on The Importance of Having A Will. But in a nutshell, if you die tomorrow – you don’t want the state and the laws of the state you live in deciding how your estate should be divided and distributed. YOU want to make that decision, especially when children or spouses are involved.
And YES, we recommend doing this every year – at least re-evaluating your Last Will and Testament each year. Life changes FAST and in the course of a year, you may have more beneficiaries, different assets, and different factors. It’s important to check it and perhaps modify at least once per year.
To get started:
First, here’s a few articles regarding a DIY Will and Testament:
For an additional resource, you can check out the Will and Testament encyclopedia on Nolo.com.
To be honest, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sites that are offering online Will and Testament kits and docs. A simple Google search will return many results from free to low fee and up. We are going to share a few resources (all free!) here with you that are reputable!
– Law Depot has quick and easy 5-10 minute forms that are free to create your last will and testament. A good way to go (note that they do have other free products, but at least a basic will and testament to be done in just a few minutes!
– Wikihow shows the step-by-step to create your own, even handwritten if that is all you can do right now.
Finally, we have actually turned to Amazon quite a few times for estate planning issues because there are always either free eBooks that share the ins and outs or even free or cheap forms to plan your own. At the time that we wrote this post, the following was either free or cheap, but no matter when you are reading this, the price is probably going to be competitive and will be of HUGE help to you!
These “Legal Self-Help Guides” are hugely popular and good ratings. They are free currently!
Here’s an ebook that seems to be pretty helpful on the topic (especially because it is free ;))
Another free source for you to reference in writing your own will!
Finally, you can also purchase will and testament “kits” on Amazon too! Here’s one of those options!
Okay – that’s it for this week’s task! You can put as much time, energy or money into this that you think you need – but remember at the very least, you can literally create one for FREE in 5-10 minutes too and at least have something! Don’t let this stone in your life go unturned. Your family will appreciate it and so will you with your new-found peace of mind!
Need to catch up? Come join us on this challenge from the very beginning by clicking on the 52-Week Take Back Your Finances Challenge and sign up to start receiving your automated challenge from the very beginning!
One final thing…we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!
Disclaimer: We are not licensed financial planners. We are only a couple that have been just a hair-breadth away from bankruptcy and found our way out of debt with a goal to now help others. Please make sure to consider any advice given on our site and in this challenge as tips we have used ourselves; they may not work for everyone. If you have questions please make sure to contact a licensed professional.