1. You are not immortal. Everyone dies. It could happen at any time. Or you could be involved in a serious accident that renders you unconscious and unable to make medical decisions. A Health Care Directive (aka Living Will) provides you the opportunity to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf. It also provides information to this health care agent and your health care providers about your wishes regarding medical treatment, organ donation, and even funeral arrangements. Best of all, it is easy to get set up and inexpensive to enlist an attorney's help.
2. You will have assets upon death and the total value adds up fast. Do you own your home? Have a life insurance policy? Own a small business? Even if you have significant student or business loans, your assets can add up to real money. Planning now protects your family in the future. A Will includes tax planning provisions (because if your assets exceed $1.6 million in Minnesota this year, you could incur MN estate tax liability) and allows you to dictate, to some extent, how those debts get paid.
3. You have minor children and/or are cohabitating with your significant other. All parents have very strong opinions on who they would want to be guardians over their children if the parent passed away. A Will is the main way you can state those wishes so the court knows who to appoint. If you are not married but living with a partner, a Will is the place you can list what specific pieces of personal property or assets you want your partner to receive. If you pass away without a Will in this circumstance, your state laws kick in and assume you want everything distributed to family members (it's called "intestate succession" and the rules vary by state); your partner may receive nothing!
Bottom line, estate planning is important for everyone. Don't let "Make a Will" sit on your to-do list for years. Reach out to an attorney you trust (or ask someone for a referral to one) and learn more!
Please remember, this post provides educational information only and in no way constitutes legal advice.
Written by Jennifer A. Rutz