Thursday, September 6, 2012

why should 20-somethings have wills?

On Monday, I declared it a lazy day. Full of TV shows, movies, and not getting out of my PJs. I had a super busy weekend and wanted to really relax.
While looking though Netflix instant, I noticed a movie “cover” with Kate Hudson on it. I do love me some Kate. I clicked on the movie, read the plot, and figured why not. The movie, A Little Bit of Heaven, is about a care-free woman who gets life changing news. Be warned: I cried... and I’m not a big crier!
Then, that night I had a nightmare that my husband found out he was dying and was trying to get his affairs in order. I literally woke up and didn’t know if it was a dream or not. Thankfully, Vincent was snoring next to me and I realized it was a dream. But how awful!?
It got me thinking. If either of us were to suddenly die or get a terminal diagnosis… would we be ready? I’m not talking about spiritually, I’m talking financially.
I, along with many other women, do rely on my husband’s income. When we said “I do,” we decided that Vincent would be the main provider and I would work until we have kids. If Vincent were to pass away suddenly, I would be “ok” financially because he has maintained the life insurance that he had in the Marines. We both know that we would return any heirlooms to the respectful family and how to handle “final” wishes.
But we are only 23.
It may seem crazy that we have put so much thought into life after death but to me it makes perfect sense. My father died unexpectedly at a young age and as the main provider, we had a lot of changes thrown our way.  At 20, Vincent was in a severe motorcycle accident that could have killed him. I think it IS important to plan ahead and plan for the worse.
Don’t think you are too young to worry about your will and finances. And just because you don’t have kids, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make plans if something were to happen to the two of you.
Also, believe it or not, but if something happens to you and you don’t have a will, there isn’t a 100% guarantee that your belongings will go to your spouse. Check the intestacy laws of your state because your parents and siblings might get a part, if not all, of your property. While intestacy is not necessarily recommended, it is certainly helpful to know where you stand.

Five reasons people without kids need to have a will:
1.       Untimely deaths: Of course we plan and dream to spend the rest of our lives together but life doesn’t always go as planned. If both of you pass, you need to leave your estate (no matter how big or small) to someone or it goes to probate. Generally, if your spouse passes, all assets go to surviving spouse, dependents, parents, or children respectfully.
2.       Medical emergencies: What if one of you is in a serious accident… What are your beliefs on life support and other serious medical decisions (like a Do Not Resuscitate/extreme measures)
3.       Financial emergencies: Like I said, Vincent is in charge of finances for us. What if he got hurt or died and I had to figure all that out? If you don’t have a Power of Attorney, I would look into it. We have one from when Vincent deployed but I highly recommend them regardless.
4.       Avoid heavy taxes: If you don’t have a will or estate plan, your family could pay thousands in lawyer fees and taxes.
5.       Peace of mind: You have a little more control over who gets what. It's not always cut and dry, my word is the only way, but having a will can provide clarity after death. To insure the clear & best outcome for interested parties, talk to an attorney. 

What is a basic will?
-         A basic will covers just that – the basics. If you don’t want your property to get tied up in probate or anything of that nature, a basic will will prevent it. Most people can have a basic will and it is plenty.

What does it cover?
-         It covers who the executor is, names the person left to care for kids, and the person in charge of managing property(s).  You can list your terms, if you like.

When will a basic will not be enough?
-         If you have children from different marriages, are divorced, or have disabled children it couldn’t hurt to have your last wishes spelled out more precisely. Also, consider if you think someone may contest the will or if you may owe estate taxes. Be sure to do your research. Also, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SEE LEGAL COUNSEL. This is a critically important thing and an attorney can make sure that all of your wishes are honored after your death.

How do I go about getting a will?
-          You can meet with an attorney (Best option)
-          Suze Orman has some great tools and forms for purchase
-          You can write your own and have it witnessed by two people (know the risks)

So where to start? Here is my outline for the will Vincent and I have come up with.
1. State that you are of clear mind and state

2. State that you are revoking all other wills and codicils you may have executed before.

3. Name the executor (and secondary executor)
·     Empower to pay all of your just debts, funeral expenses, taxes and estate administration expenses.
·     Authorize to sell any real estate in which you may own an interest at the time of your death and to deal with your real estate as you yourself could do

4. List the beneficiaries:
·     Name
·     Relationship to you
·     Date of Birth
·     Spouses (alive, divorce, and deceased)
·     Children

5. Property – where applicable, make sure you know whom you want your property to go to
·     Pets (I know- property!? Well in the eyes of the law that is exactly what they are)
o   You can use a Pet Trust to ensure the pet has certain provisions (housing, vet care, etc)
·     Land
·     Home
·     Cars & other vehicles (boats, motorcycles, etc)
·     Timeshares
·     Etc.

6. Financial –
·     Check who is the beneficiary and keep it updated
o   Retirement
o   College funds
o   Life insurance
·     Put into a trust
o   Bank accounts
§  Savings
§  Checking
o   Other investments

7. Medical
      ·     Requests in regards to Extreme Measures (Do Not Resuscitate, Life Support, other medical care, etc)

8. Personal (optional) I listed these on our will because we do have some important items that we want to go to specific people
·     Jewelry
·     Electronics
·         Souvenirs, Collectables, Hobby interests
·         Photo albums, scrapbooks
·         Clothing
·         Art Work
·         Furniture
·         Family Heirlooms

Now what?
After you finish listing out your wishes, sign it and make copies. Give the copies to your executor and other prominent parties.

Vincent and I don’t have a huge net worth so a basic will does suffice. When kids enter the picture, our wishes will change dramatically (as in they get it all) but until then it’s nice to have some since of control.

I'd like to reiterate how important it is to have a will and to discuss these matters with your spouse or/and loved ones. Life is short and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. 
On a related note: This video has gone viral. It is about a gay couple who were not married and didn't have a will. I am not making a political statement with this video, I am simply drawing a connection to the importance of a will for everyone.


I am not a licensed attorney and am not acting as one. A law school student did review my post but again, this is a blog, not a college textbook. The information provided is on a personal basis and should not be taken for absolute law. Always do your homework and consult an attorney.   I take no legal resposibily for anything in the post. I just want to help us young couples take care of our stuff and loved ones. Also laws vary from state to state. DO YOUR RESEARCH! :)

And don't leave mean comments. I just want to help! :)


  1. Its awesome to get these things sorted out! We are also rather young, got married young and have no kids (although there is one of the way - yipppee) and we also sorted out our will years ago! We nominated an executor, spoke out all the hard things, had it drawn up, signed it, gave a copy to our parents and put a copy in our safe! As much as we DIDN'T want to even think about it at the time it is nice that it is all sorted out now and done!! It goes give me some peace of mind and I think it is SUPER important!!
    I love being organized and love sorting things like this out!!

    1. Hi Candace!
      Thanks for commenting!! It really is super important and I'm glad other understand that!

      Congrats on the baby! :)

      The bit about a copy in the safe is a great point! We have a fireproof box that we use!