Cents and Sensibility

5 Reasons Why You Need a Last Will

Ever had family conflict right after someone dies? Having a living will can eliminate many problems. Here are 5 reasons why you should create one now.
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Have you ever been involved in conflict or confusion that often arises when a loved one passes without a last will and testament? If so, you know firsthand that there is a real cost, financially and emotionally, associated with not having one in place.

Whereas a last will is used to distribute property to beneficiaries, specify last wishes, and name guardians for minor children, a living will allows you to outline important healthcare decisions in advance, such as whether to remain on artificial life support.

By the numbers, roughly 7 out of 10 Americans will die without a will; however, 10 out of 10 will need one. So, repeat after me: “It’s…Not…About…Me!” Check out the top five reasons why you need a will:

1.Choice and Guardianship: According to Brian Morris, LegalShield independent associate, you should have a will in place so that you may have “a choice.” You are able to determine how your estate will be distributed (the items you place no value on are often the root of family conflict after the fact). You are also able to elect the individual(s) best suited to be the guardian of your minor children.

2. Savings: It is not about how much you make, but how much you keep. While your affairs will still be settled in probate court, having a will assists in minimizing time and money spent during that process.

3. Minimize Estate Taxes: Wills allow you to minimize your estate taxes. The value of what you give away to your family and friends or donations to charity will reduce the value of your estate when the time comes to pay taxes.

4. Gifts and Donations: The ability to give gifts is a great reason to have a will. Giving gifts allows your legacy to live on and continuously reflect on your personal interests and values. Also, gifts up to $1,200 are excluded from estate tax, so you are also increasing the value of your estate for your heirs, beneficiaries, family, and friends to enjoy.

5. Peace Among Your Family: Simply put, you get to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your heirs’ needs are met according to your plan. If wills are so important, why do only 3 out of 10 American have on in place at the time of their death?

The good news is that the planning process has been made more accessible through free online resources and legal document companies. Some quick and easy sites where you can start are and But to ensure that your legal documents meet the specific needs of your situation, it is always in your best interest to seek the advice and consultation of an estate planning attorney.

About Dr. Karen Ratliff

Karen Ratliff

Credit: Dr. Karen Ratliff

Dr. Ratliff is a certified life coach and professional educator, assisting many people in accomplishing financial, career, and educational goals.  She is also the author of “Tightening Your Bootstraps: 104 Tips to Kick Your Debt to the Curb Now.” Keep up with her budgetary advice via Twitter @drkarenratliff  her website at, and her facebook fanpage “Financially Focused with Dr. Karen Ratliff.”