I really don't like to use the word "should" but one thing I believe all parents should do is create a will. It's one of those topics that is riddled with emotional baggage but man, it's SO important to make your wishes known, both in terms of guardianship and finances. I asked Sandra Gilpatrick for advice on how to move past the stigma to action; she shares 5 great tips. Also, be sure to check out Sandra's other articles on how to start saving for college, 4 ways to work towards financial security, how to teach kids to budget, and 15 gems in Beacon Hill!
I’m always surprised by the number of parents I meet who don't have a will. If the worst happens, a will informs the court about guardianship for your minor children, and also is useful to indicate how to distribute sentimental or valuable possessions. Having a will can shorten the probate process, as it provides a roadmap to the court. It's also a good tool to pacify family squabbles, as your intentions are clearly stated. Today I want to help you get over the stigma of wills and put your will at the top of your to-do list.
1. Think about the reality. Hopefully you will never have to deal with this, but the reality is, if you haven’t appointed a guardian of your minor child/children, the court will appoint one for you. You also want your hard-earned assets to go to the right place, right? You need a will now!
2. Remember that clear directives are a good thing. As hard as it can be emotionally to think about your kids’ futures in this way, clear directives are a good thing. (And in addition to thinking about who would be guardian to your kids, also consider who will manage the property of your minor children and who will settle the affairs of your estate.) I want a dear friend with whom my son is most comfortable to be his guardian if my husband and I die. My family, who would be the ones most likely to petition for guardianship, would not necessarily realize that this friend would be the best person for the job. It was imperative for me to make my wishes known in a will.
3. Talk about it with friends. Everyone thinks about the, “What would happen to my kids if I got hit by a bus?” question at some point, but so few talk about it. Decrease the stigma by having the conversation with friends. I have heard of instances where friends have had this conversation and -- with great relief -- come to a mutual agreement to indicate each other as guardians in wills.
4. Reduce your fear of your will and review it periodically. When you have your will in place, it's a good practice to review it every five years, or when you have a major life change like a birth, divorce, or death. You should consider reviewing your financial strategy along with your legal documents when you have a life transition.
5. Move past the common roadblocks. Some couples have a difficult time coming to a mutual conclusion over who will be the guardian of their child, which stalls out the task. Others procrastinate knowing the odds are low that a will will need to be used to determine guardianship. Beware of these (or other) roadblocks and move past them to action.
You’ve worked so hard to build your family life; make your wishes known and bump creating a will to the top of your to-do list for 2016!
To learn more about Sandra, visit SandraGilpatrick.com. Third party posts on this profile do not reflect the views of LPL Financial and have not been reviewed by LPL Financial as to accuracy or completeness. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.