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4 Reasons to Get a Will if You Don't Have One Already

The Motley Fool logo The Motley Fool 1/23/2022 Maurie Backman
Young couple going over paperwork with female professional. © Getty Images Young couple going over paperwork with female professional.

There are certain financial goals it's important to check off your list, like having enough money in a savings account to cover emergency expenses and eliminating unhealthy debt. But here's one goal many people gloss over -- creating a will.

The reality is that setting up a will can be an uncomfortable experience. Let's face it -- nobody wants to contemplate their own mortality. But it's important to move past that discomfort and put that key document into place. This holds true whether you're wealthy or have little to no assets to speak of right now.

In fact, a big myth is there's no sense in creating a will when you hardly have any money. But wills aren't just for the wealthy. No matter your circumstances, here are four reasons why it's important to have one.

1. To get control over what happens to your assets

You may only have a few thousand dollars in the bank and limited assets of value, like some electronics and an older car that's seen better days. But wouldn't you like to be the one who dictates where those assets will go upon your passing? Without a will, you won't necessarily get that say. But if you create a will, you can spell out how you want your assets divided.

2. To make sure your children will be cared for

If you have children, it's imperative you get a will. Without one, you won't have a clear plan for their care in the event of your passing. In fact, it pays to sit down with trusted family members and friends and discuss who might be willing to step up and raise your kids should things come to that.

3. To have a contingency plan for your pets

Your pets rely on you to provide food, shelter, and care. Just as you wouldn't willingly dump them out on the street, so too should you avoid a scenario where your pets wind up neglected in the event of your passing. As is the case with children, it pays to have some discussions to determine who in your life would be willing to take in your pets should the need arise.

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4. To give yourself peace of mind

While the actual process of putting a will in place might stir up some unsettling feelings, once that document is complete, you might actually breathe a sigh of relief. That's because you'll have completed an unpleasant task, and also, because you'll have your final wishes mapped out clearly and officially.

How to create a will

You don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money on a will. There are free or low-cost templates you can access online to put one together. That said, if your circumstances are at all complicated, or if there are children or pets in the mix, you may want to engage a lawyer's services to have your will created.

Some estate-planning lawyers charge an hourly rate for will creation, while others charge a flat fee. If you're looking for a fairly basic will, you'll probably qualify for the latter. And while the exact cost will vary based on where you live and what your estate looks like, you should know that paying a lawyer to set up your will generally won't break the bank. That way, you can rest assured you're getting that will right.


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