A last will and testament is a legal document that outlines what is to happen to an individual's worldly possessions should that person pass away. Although many view final will and testaments as a task that is handled in the latter years of life, a will is something that every adult should have. The unfortunate reality of life is that each of us does not know how long we will be alive, no matter what our health status is. Here is a look at why every adult needs a last will and testament, regardless of his or her age or health status.
Why Everyone Needs a Will
A final will and testament is a necessary document for anyone who wishes to decide what happens to his or her assets after death. While a final will and testament is often not thought about until later in life, it is important for all adults to have a will because of life's uncertainties. If you wish to have a say in how your assets are distributed amongst your loved ones, a last will and testament is something that you should consider. While no one plans to die young, accidents do happen, and it is better to prepare well in advance, in case of a devastating accident or illness.
Selecting Executors and Beneficiaries
There are many people involved in the execution of a will. An executor is the person responsible for handling your estate after your death. His or her duty is to ensure that your final wishes are carried out, using the last will and testament as a guide. An executor is typically selected by the deceased prior to his or her death. However, in special situations where no executor was selected, the court system can appoint one. Another important role in a last will and testament is the beneficiary. A beneficiary is a person who is to receive part or all of your estate after your death. Typically, beneficiaries are the people who are closest to you, such as your spouse, children, parents and siblings. However, a beneficiary can be any living person you choose.
Custody Issues and Trust Funds
A special issue for younger adults is who will care for their children when they are gone. Should you pass away before your children reach legal adulthood, it is in the best interest of your children to have a legal guardian selected in your will. In addition to determining how your material wealth would be divided, a last will and testament can also act as a legal document that determines custody of your underage children in the event that both you and your spouse pass away. You can select a legal guardian to take over custody of your children in the event that both you and the child's other parent pass away. Additionally, if you have monetary assets that need to be divided between your children, you can opt to put the funds away in a trust fund available for them to use when they turn 18 years old.
Allocation of Material Wealth
Once you've decided who you would like to act as beneficiaries to your estate, you must decide how it will be allocated. You must determine how all of your assets with be divided, but keep in mind that it doesn't have to be divided evenly. It is up to you how you would like to divide your assets. Additionally, you can opt to distribute your assets to a group or just one of two beneficiaries. The choice is entirely yours.
Let Your Final Wishes Be Known
The purpose of a final will and testament is to allow your final wishes to be carried out. Make sure that your last will and testament accurately reflects how you want your estate to be divided. Don't worry about hurting other people's feelings; this document is about your final wishes and no one else's. The lives and priorities of young adults may change frequently, so it is important to note that the will should be updated accordingly from time to time.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of your age, financial well-being or health, a last will and testament is an important document to have for any adult. As you age and your financial status changes, you can update your document to reflect your present situation. The bottom line is simple; death is a part of everyone's life, not just the elderly or infirm. Being prepared for the inevitable will take the stress and the burden off your family's shoulders.
More From Investopedia