Should a Single Woman Have a Will?

BlogHer Original Post

I’m a 27-year-old female with no major health problems; someone who tries to take care of herself and make good food choices. I hope to be around for a long time, but you just never know. And if something did happen to me, what would happen to my assets?

I’m not wealthy, but the thing is, that doesn’t matter. I own my car outright, and I have a savings account and a retirement plan. The retirement plan is the only one where I had to designate a beneficiary, so it’s the only asset I have that would go to someone else automatically. (My older sister has been the sole beneficiary on my retirement plans for about ten years, through several jobs I’ve held during that time. Hers is the only social security number I know by heart, other than my own, so it’s easy to remember when I’m handed one of those HR forms to fill out – the first five digits are the same as my own.)

But what happens to the rest of it? I can assume my family would know to split up any assets I have between my siblings – but it’s not always that easy, right? Depending on the state where you live, it can get complicated. Assets aren’t always divided automatically between your next-of-kin if you haven’t designated that in advance.

What I ended up doing was buying access to the online version of Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit. No expensive lawyer to hire; no software to download – all I had to do was pull out my credit card and pay the one-time fee of $13.50. I haven’t gone through it yet – all I need now is a bit of uninterrupted free time – but it looks fairly simple. Fill out a questionnaire, and it automatically determines which documents you need so you don’t have to slog through all the options and determine which ones pertain to you.

Another task I need to do, which doesn’t require filling out forms or getting them notarized, is something I’ve had on my 101 Things list since I put it together last January – write a “If something dire ever happens to me” letter. It’ll list all the bills I pay on a regular basis, and where my accounts and credit cards are located.

You see, in the interest of saving paper, I don’t get bank statements or paper bills sent to my home address; they’re all delivered electronically to my email inbox. Since I’m the only one who knows my password, who else would be able to access this information if I didn’t write it down? Even if the online will-program takes a while to complete and make official, at least my family would know what type of accounts I have, where my savings account is located, etc.

I found out about Suze Orman’s Will & Trust program at Paying Peter Back, a personal finance blog. She wants to become fiscally healthy, and the first thing on her to-do list is to get a will. Her best point? Doing this would cost less than the price of a large pizza.

Now everyone knows that you need a will but it’s one of those things that often gets put on hold indefinitely because it means actually facing your own mortality, and it costs like 10,000 dollars and “I don’t really have anything anyway.” WRONG!!! Yes, you are going to die, no two ways around this one. It does not cost lots of money. Over on suzeorman.com, you can purchase a will and trust kit that literally walks you through all the forms for a whopping $14.45. A large Papa John’s pizza is 15.95. […]

I liked Suze’s forms, because it contains the forms for a will, revocable living trust, and the Advanced Medical Directive (AKA the Terry Schaivo form). All that for less than a pizza.

From Single Edition: How Do I Know if I Need a Will?

[A] will is recommended to ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes. If you wish to leave items of personal property or money to a friend, charity or relative, a will will help you to do so, and can facilitate substantial tax savings not only to your estate, but to the estate’s beneficiaries. It will also help contain administration and probate expenses.

If you die without a will, your State’s law will determine what happens to your property in a process called intestate succession. This usually requires appointment of an administrator by the State, eating up costs and time. […] Even if your will contains just simple instructions naming an executor and directing your funeral requirements, it will create less stress for those you leave behind no matter how minimal the distribution of your possessions or assets may be.

Have you made any of these types of preparations?

Related reading:

Top Three Legal Documents Every Person Should Have

Do I Really Need a Will? Why you need one (even if you’re not rich), and a good explanation of the different terms.

Do You Need a Power of Attorney?

Pengwenn: she doesn’t care about her assets, but as a writer she does care about what happens to her stories.

Contributing editor Zandria also blogs at Keep Up With Me.

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