I’m frequently asked why someone would need a will. It’s a good question. I’m not surprised when I hear it because of the discomfort inherent in the topic (also occasionally called the “ick” factor). It’s also an incomplete question.
A will is just one part of an estate plan. It is a set of instructions for a few trusted individuals to deal with your property and pass it on to your chosen beneficiaries in the manner you chose. For all the attention paid to a will, it is a disservice to you and your loved ones to stop there. For example, other documents you need to consider are incapacity documents for while you are alive, such as a living will, healthcare proxy (aka healthcare power of attorney), and a durable power of attorney.
An estate plan is more than just the instructions for what to do with your stuff. A complete estate plan is an opportunity to give your family the gift of preparation and forethought to resolve the issues surrounding incapacity and death, so your loved ones can focus on healing and grieving.
Consider yourself lucky if you’ve never experienced a non-existent or poorly-made estate plan. For anyone who has been through it, you know it can be stressful to cope with a loved one’s injury, incapacity, or death. Not having the tools in place to deal with those issues, or not knowing what your loved one would want you to do, adds a lot of stress to that difficult situation.
To answer the original question directly, you need a will because it is part of the estate plan. It may not be a complicated will, but it is a part of being prepared. If you don’t have an estate plan, or if you haven’t looked at your plan in a while, let’s chat.
Post by Peter Harrison