Planning Ahead

Top 5 Reasons Why People Don’t Complete Their Will

by Erik Neilson

For many people, the prospect of getting a will put together seems incredibly harrowing. Of course, the harder something seems, the more likely it is to go on the eternal “I’ll do that someday” list. Or, even worse, the “I started it but will get around to finishing it someday” list.

So, what holds people back from completing a will? Here are five reasons:

1. They Believe They Personally Don’t Need a Will

“I don’t have any assets, I’m single, so why do I need a will?” or “I’m married and have a kid, but everything will just go to my spouse when I die so it’s not a big deal”. Sound familiar? There are a lot of people who think that having a will isn’t a necessity…and they’re wrong. A will allows you to do many things, but one of the most important is the ability to set in place wishes and instructions to ease the burden on others after your passing.

You may be single with no assets, but your funeral will still cost money, and you may have an opinion about your obituary, headstone, or funeral services. You can use a will in conjunction with life insurance and a trust to make sure that your family doesn’t bear the financial burden of your passing, and to make sure your burial and funeral are handled according to your wishes.

Young, old, single, married, kids or no kids, if you want to minimize the additional stress your passing places on your family, create a will!

2. They Don’t Want to Talk About Intimate Details with Someone

Another major hurdle for those who are considering setting up a will is that of having to discuss intimate life details with someone. This is especially true for those who don’t have an attorney and thus believe they’ll need to outline their lives to a stranger in order to complete the process of setting up a will. It’s an understandable concern, but one not typically based in reality.

Today, there are online services that allow you to create a will without even having to leave the confines of your home. For some (especially those with significant assets or complex estates), working with a professional may still be the best solution to ensure that nothing important is overlooked.

3. They Don’t Feel Ready

Let’s face it—no one wants to think about death when they’re perfectly healthy. Many people feel that setting in motion the process of writing a will means death isn’t far off, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A will is not an end all, be all statement that you’ll never be able to change down the road. Conversely, it is a living document that can shift as your life shifts, often over a period of many years or decades. If it seems like now simply isn’t the right time to consider making big decisions such as writing a will, remember that nothing is set in stone—you’re just kicking off the beginning of a very important life requirement.

4. They Haven’t Considered the Consequences of Not Writing a Will

It’s easy to go through life focusing on the here and now, which is also an important part of living happily and fully. Still, this overlooks just how important it is to have a will in place before death occurs. The consequences of not having a will can be quite high, especially if you have a large or complex family situation. When a person dies without a will, their estate will effectively fall into the hands of the probate court, which will dole the money out as it sees fit. This is reason enough to start thinking about writing a will, and one that unfortunately affects many families annually.

5. They Believe They Don’t Have Enough Money to Write a Will

It would make sense to think that only the wealthy require wills, but this is not true, and it’s something that leads many people to believe that wills aren’t for them. Even if you don’t have a large amount of money in the bank, you most likely do have a number of possessions and other assets that you’ll want to go to specific people, whether they be friends, family members or even institutions. This is effectively your estate, and ignoring the fact that it exists means you won’t have any control over where all of these items end up after death.

Writing a will is certainly a lot to think about, especially when you consider the difficult end-of-life decisions the document typically revolves around. Determining that you don’t need a will or that setting one up is too difficult won’t do you any favors. The sooner you can get the document in motion, the less stress it’s likely to cause you in life.