Do I need a Will?

We hear that question frequently—most often from our Millennial clients. On its face, not thinking about death is a hallmark of youth. But it doesn’t avoid the issues that your family will face if you die without a will. No one knows when they are going to die or how it will happen. Wills are not exclusively for people with assets like a home—they are also crucial for people with student loans, dogs, cars, artwork, or anything else of value—like a meaningful book or beloved piece of jewelry.

What is a will? What is a Last Will and Testament?

Great question! A will is a document that tells the world what you want to happen to your assets, your things, your home, your pets—even your body—and who should act to help those wishes. So in a way, you can think of a will as a set of instructions.

What should I put into my will?

A will is one type of instrument that can help your loved ones understand what you want to happen to your things after you pass. In another post, you can read about some other documents and instruments to help with distributing assets—beginning even when you’re still alive!

If you have a beloved pet, perhaps you put into the will a direction to give a certain amount of money to someone to help with the expenses of caring for your beloved canine. Maybe, you really want your niece to have your favorite pearl earrings. Sometimes, people leave letters or other sentimental items for people with a certain direction. There are heartwarming stories of people leaving videos, letters, and gifts to people to be distributed upon certain important events happening—like a beloved grandchild’s communion or a wedding. There is no limit to what we can do to customize your will.

Does a will have to be complicated or can it be simple?

Nope. A will can be short and continue to remain effective. What determines the length and complexity of a will are the needs and wishes of the client. If a will includes more diverse items, with many recipients, and complex, then clearly it will be longer than a less complex set of instructions. No matter what your needs are, we will create for you a customized life planning package that includes the most effective will for your needs.

Should I have a will?

That’s a great question and if a lawyer tells you, “yes!” right off the bat, they are lying. Not everyone needs a will. Most people need a will, but we won’t force you into creating one if there is no need for one. We pride ourselves on creating highly effective and ironclad life plan that includes documents, like wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. But, like any estate planning component, your life plan depends on your life—your needs, your hopes, your intentions. Come in and tell us what you want to do with your life and how you want to plan for every step of your future; and then we will let you know if a will is the right legal document for you. Wills are excellent tools for distributing assets after you pass, but they can also be a means to help your loved one’s cope with your passing. Wills are not just legal documents; they are a window into your values and how you lived your life. A will provides those you love—including your dog—an outlet for coping; whether it be with money or with meaningful possessions.

What happens if I die without a will?

Many people die each year “intestate.” That means that they pass on without a will to direct their family and the community as to what their intentions are. There are laws in place that step in to help distribute assets to family members. But the law says nothing about your relationship with those people. Many people are closer with their stepparents than with their biological parents. Other people want to leave their possessions to friends or to a nonprofit rather than their family. There are also millions of millennials and Gen Xers that have a family of their choosing that their blood relatives disapprove of.

If you die without a will, all of those considerations go out the window and a judge will disperse your possessions AND debts to people you would not have chosen willingly. So, why risk enriching people that don’t care about you? A will ensures that the things that matter to you are protected. Work with Law Group of Iowa and we will create for you the strongest set of documents to help guide the rest of your life and beyond.

Should I tell my parents to get a will?

If your parents have been dragging their feet to get a will, that’s usually an indicator that they already know that they need one. We pride ourselves on making the process easy, simple, and comprehensive. We also make it so your parents can change their wills on their own. Flexibility, convenience, and professionalism are the hallmarks of Law Group of Iowa.

We have all been in that situation with parents: you’re eating dinner one weekend with them and you’ve been saving up your nerve to ask them. When you finally do, your father probably gets uptight and your mother probably tries to change the subject to avoid a fight. On its face, it’s hard to think about death and no one wants to appear greedy. But, just like caring for you when you were younger, it’s not an act of greed to prepare for the future—it’s an act of compassion on your part to get the ball rolling.

Let them know that there is a law firm out there that can help them with every step and make sure that their privacy, humanity, and dignity, are preserved. We will also do an assessment of their assets and income to make sure they can afford nursing home care. Many people, including the relatives of the firm, think that Medicaid will pay for nursing home care. It will not unless everything, including their wills are in order.

Just ask your parents: “Do you want all of your money going to the government?”

That one question gets everyone on the same page—it’s time to get organized!

Talk to us for a free consultation and we can get everything started and completed typically within a week. Tell your family that you’re not doing this to make sure you get the farm, you just want to make sure the family takes care of it in the way they want it to be taken care of. Because if they don’t, a government bureaucrat could liquidate everything!

Who needs a will more: a Millennial, a Gen Xer, or a Boomer?

Yes. People of every generation need wills. It was originally thought that millennials wouldn’t need wills as much as their parents because the Great Recession stopped so many of them from building wealth. But, it appears that Millennials, much like their grandparents during the Great Depression, learned how to adapt quickly and amass wealth and assets quickly. Those assets, student loan debts, pets, artwork, vinyl record collection, and other things which describe that generation are just as important to protect as any other generations’ wealth. Your grandmother’s china hutch is just as important and necessary to direct through a will as your book collection of Emily Dickinson.

In short, it’s not about the age or generation of a person that really determines their need for a will. Instead, it depends on their intent after death. For example, without a will, your dog, your book collection, your furniture—it all goes up for auction if a family member won’t take it. Why not make sure your pets, your prized possessions, and your savings go to the people and institutions that you care about—not the highest bidder! Make sure your dog is taken care of after you pass on; make sure your alma mater gets a donation; give your favorite niece a gift—do whatever you want—just make your life yours by creating a will.

Here are some other questions to ask yourself and your loved ones when thinking about wills:

  • Do I need an estate plan?
  • Is there a way to avoid probate?
  • Am I too old to get a will?
  • Am I too young to have a will?
  • What’s a power of attorney?
  • What’s the difference between a power of attorney and a durable power of attorney?
  • Do I need a power of attorney?
  • Do I need a living will?
  • How do I save my assets for my family?
  • How do I avoid estate tax and/or inheritance taxes?
  • Will being divorced make it harder for my family once I pass?
  • Can I donate money to a charity in my will?
  • How do I donate money to a charity in my will?
  • How do I donate art and other high value assets to a charity?
  • How do I get my parent into a nursing home?
  • How much does a nursing home cost?
  • What about my life insurance policy?
  • Why do nursing homes cost so much?
  • How can we avoid losing our savings?
  • Who do we ask for help for finding a nursing home?
  • How will I pay for burial costs?
  • How do I protect my special needs child?
  • Will my disabled child be able to stay in my home?
  • What’s the difference between Medicaid and Medicare?
  • If I pass away, who has to pay off my debt?
  • What happens to my wife’s portion of our equity in the home if I die?
  • Can I have multiple wills?
  • Do I need a new will if I move to a new state?
  • Does being a veteran affect my will?
  • If my parent has dementia, can I meet with an attorney on their behalf?
  • What if spouses die at the same time?
  • What is a pour-over will?
  • Do I have to use my original lawyer that wrote my will to change my will?
  • How do I change my will?
  • How long is a will good for?
  • How much does it cost to get a will made?
  • Who do I give copies of the will to?
  • If I own a business, do I need a special will?
  • Do LGBTQ people require a special type of will?
  • Can I write a will on my own?
  • Will the government take my guns and firearms?

Contact Law Group of Iowa for a free evaluation!