I have been meaning to get around to preparing a will for the last fifteen years. Why has it taken me so long to get this important document filed? Fear. I was afraid it would cost too much money, take too much time, and require too much emotional energy.
But my children are worth it. Their future is worth it. There's too much at stake to just let the state's default standards be put into play if something were to happen to me and my husband. You hope that nothing will ever need to be done, but you never know. I'm working this summer on planning with heaven in mind. Since I lost my sister suddenly in a car wreck this year, I've realized that I need to lay aside my fears, and get some business done. Preparing a will - it's not as bad as you think.
Fear #1: It Will Cost Too Much
Anytime a lawyer is involved to create an official document, all I can see is dollar signs. Some people say you can just go online and create one for free. Once you've printed it, you're good to go. I don't recommend trying to prepare a will without a lawyer. However, my husband and I found a way to create a will affordably that is legally binding.
We're members of Legal Shield, a prepaid legal service, that offers legal assistance or advice in a monthly service plan. For $19.99 a month, you can have a law firm working for you when you need them. This includes preparing a will! They have a simple questionnaire that you and your spouse fill out and mail in to them. They will call with any questions they have regarding the information you supply them, and then they'll prepare your will.
Within 10 days of receiving your questionnaire, they'll send you the completed document with instructions for finalizing your will. All you need to do is take your will to a notary to sign it and make it official. If you're really fast, you could sign up for a month of Legal Shield services, complete your will, and cancel the service. That would mean you could get your will prepared legally around $20. Not too expensive. We're keeping our membership though, because it's a great service.
Fear #2: Preparing a Will is Time Consuming
This too was an unnecessary fear. My husband and I filled out the will questionnaire in one night. We are pretty simple people. We don't have a ton of assets to distribute. Our main goal was to ensure that if something were to happen to us, our children would be taken care of by people who believe as we do, and would carry on the homeschooling journey we'd started.
If you have an abundance of assets, such as homes, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement funds, or life insurance policies, all you need to do is round up that information. If it's not easily accessible, now is a great time to pull it all together. If you can't find it, how is anyone else going to locate it when you're gone?
Fear #3: Preparing a Will is Emotionally Exhausting
While I can't say that this one is totally untrue, the good feeling of getting my will in order overpowered the emotional nature of preparing for your death. The reality is that everyone will die eventually. Don't think of preparing your will as a sad event. Think of it as a beautiful gift for your loved ones. With a legal document governing your wishes for the distribution of your estate, you're providing peace for the loved ones you've left behind.
If you find it emotionally exhausting preparing a will, consider how emotionally exhausted your loved ones will be if you leave them without one.
My will is in the process of being official. I'm sorry it only took me fifteen years to be brave enough to face my fears. It's part of my unconventional summer bucket list. Check back soon to see how I'm doing with my other goals!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.