If the prospect of making a will seems daunting, it doesn't have to be. Making a will isn't a difficult thing to do. But for some, it is—and they create a host of reasons to avoid doing it.
Here are the ten most common excuses people use for not making a will and what you can do to overcome them.
1. Belief that it's something you “should” do
Typically, when people feel they “have” to do something, the opposite occurs and they avoid it. It's often the same with creating a will. If you know you should do one, you put pressure on yourself to do it. But that pressure can be what drives you to not do it. So what you do you do? One way is to ask people close to you what their experiences were when making their will. Maybe they also felt the same pressure and they can share tips on what they did to overcome it. Or, rather than thinking of the task as a burden, make it fun! Enlist others to help you get your thoughts down. You'll find the extra help makes it easy—and when you finish it—you'll be surprised at what you were waiting for!
2. Uncomfortable telling strangers personal details
Many people are reluctant to discuss their personal affairs with strangers and, thinking their only option to do a will is with an attorney, they avoid it. The good news is, you don't have to talk to an attorney about your will. You can create it online, in the privacy of your own home without talking to anyone.
3. Not ready to make important life decisions
If you think your will has to be the “be all end all” document and you're just not ready to make such huge and overwhelming decisions, think again. A will is something you create for right now—not for some nebulous time in the future—with what you currently have, what your thoughts are for giving them away, and who you know now that you would like to give them to. Next year, all that can change. All you have to do at that point is revise your will. The best part is, once you've made your first will, the next one becomes much easier. Then you get to a point, as you go along through life, where you get clear ideas of what you should change, enabling you to easily keep your will consistent with how you feel today.
4. Unaware of the consequences of not having a will
As they say, “Ignorance is bliss.” Most often, those that don't do their wills simply aren't aware of what they're missing. Without a will, if your estate totals a certain amount (which you or may not even realize you have until you add up the total value), the probate court takes over and doles out your property based on your family relationships. If you are married, your spouse would receive some or all of your property, then your children; and if there are no children, then to your parents; and if there are no parents, then to your parent's children (i.e. your brothers and sisters) or their children; etc., etc. You get the idea. And the process to figure all this out costs money, which your estate pays for. So, if that is what you intend, then great. But most people don't, so that's why it's good idea (a no-brainer, in fact), to plan ahead.
5. Avoiding dealing with family issues
Not wanting to deal with family issues is a big reason a lot of people don't do their wills. Having to confront issues of the past can be extremely uncomfortable and even a flash point for a current relationship. While issues with a blended family, past relationships, a special needs child, addicted family member, or more can seem unresolvable, there are solutions. One way is to work with an attorney, who, in these types of situations, can help, as they generally have experience tailoring wills to deal with more complex or delicate family dynamics.
6. Disagreement between spouses or partners about having a will
Sometimes partners—whether married or not—can disagree on the importance of a will. That's normal. One may be a #3 and one may be a #4 (from above)—a perfect combination for not getting a will done. If the #4 partner becomes more informed and decides to get a will, even if #3 still doesn't, #4 can still go it alone. Spouses or partners don't have to agree on their wills or do it together. Just getting one will done helps. For unmarried parters, a will is just as important—if not more important—as the law doesn't provide the same protections for unmarried couples as for married couples. Who knows, once the dissenting spouse sees how easy it is to make a will, they just might be inspired to make theirs.
7. Belief that it takes too much effort
Well, everything takes at least some effort—especiallIy anything worthwhile—but how much effort is a matter of degree. These days, you can get a will done online in as little at 15 minutes for less than $100. If that isn't convincing enough to do your will done today, I don't know what else is.
8. Unsure where to start
Not knowing how to start a will can trip some people up, but using it as an excuse to not do one is not that convincing. You can start by doing some research online; you can start by organizing your thoughts on paper; you can start by making a will on a website like LegalZoom that guides you step-by-step through the process. There are any number of ways to start—it all boils down to taking that first step.
9. Belief that young people don't need wills
Just like their 40–70-something counterparts, 20–30-somethings benefit from having a will. Colleen Stiles, LegalZoom customer and star of one of the LegalZoom TV commercials, and both of her college-age children, did their wills at LegalZoom.com (check out her full story here). For her kids, it was an empowering experience that taught them an important life lesson, and for her, it was an important teaching moment as a parent. You're never too young to start planning ahead.
10. Belief that only wealthy people need wills
The idea that only wealthy people need wills is simply not true. Everyone needs a will, whether you're old, young, rich, poor, male, female, married, single, childless or you have children. More than likely you have property and personal possessions that you would want to go to specific people. To put it all down on paper for your family and friends is not only a compassionate thing to do—it's also a smart thing to do.