14 January 2015

Why You Need a Will {Immediately} If You're a Parent





Last week, Michael and I signed and notarized our wills, and while the whole process was surreal and left me feeling a little morbid and sad {I wish I could explain this feeling better but it’s hard. You have to be there to fully understand} the overwhelming majority of me felt relieved that we finished a very important detail as parents.

No one ever wants to think about dying let alone dying and leaving their children but as parents, it’s a detail we must think about and deal with head on immediately. To be honest, I had never really given a will much thought before I had Maddy and even after she was born, I knew it was something I eventually needed to do but didn’t make a priority. I regret that decision a lot because as Maddy’s parent, I am always responsible for thinking of her well-being which includes what happens to her if I or Michael isn’t here to take care of her. 

After consulting with our family attorney, I learned a lot about the process and legal aspect of wills and how the lack of having a proper will puts into jeopardy our possessions but more importantly our children. It was such an eye opening experience that I feel it’s important to share this information with all of you. So, let me share this scenario that I hope will help you to understand the importance of having a will as a parent. 

It’s a Friday evening and Michael and I are having a date night downtown. On our way to dinner, our car is hit head on resulting in both of our deaths. 

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MADDY WITHOUT A WRITTEN WILL?

It’s bad enough that we died. You wouldn’t think that anything could get worse, right? Wrong. It’s about to get much worse. We weren’t prepared to die so we didn’t have any kind of will to state who gets custody of Maddy. There are my parents, my two sisters, my aunt and Michael’s mother. Chances are there would be a huge conflict between families as to who would have custody of Maddy. There would probably be lawsuits. It’s easy to think, “Oh my family would never argue over such a thing! We would all work together to make sure everything was taken care of” but very rarely does this ever happen. It’s amazing the kinds of emotions that are elicited from those we love when death and beloved children is involved. Our attorney explained to us that she currently has many cases involving family lawsuits and disputes because of custody situations – all of which could have been avoided with a little planning and a will. 

But let’s get back to our scenario. So we don’t have any wills. Our families are fighting about who gets Maddy but guess what? Our families can’t really fight about it because it’s not up to them who gets custody of our child. Maddy’s fate will now lie in the hands of the state courts or the social services department.

Can you imagine??? 

However, with our will in place, should anything happen to myself or Michael, it states very clearly who Maddy’s guardian and trustee will be so there is no question as to what happens to her or how she will be taken care of. We even named a backup guardian and trustee should something happen to the primary guardians in the meantime. It’s all about planning and making sure the details have been thought through and considered.

WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR ASSETS WITHOUT A WILL?
Most people, including myself, work under the assumption that the things we leave behind when we die automatically go to our child{ren}.

Wrong.

Not only will your child’s well-being be put into question but at this point, the probate courts have the right to distribute all of your child’s inheritance as they see fit. Every state has their own way of handling this but in my humble opinion, I would never want the courts to decide how my assets will be handled, especially if my intention is for Maddy to be taken care of financially. 

You guys, I can’t stress enough the importance of making sure you and your spouse/partner have a will in place as parents. It’s hard enough for me to imagine dying and leaving Maddy but it’s so much worse for me to think about her not being taken care of properly the way her father and I want. 

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about preparing your will; everything from choosing an attorney, choosing guardians, trustees and executors and the content of the actual will itself. If you’re a parent who has been thinking about doing a will, you don’t want to miss out on that post. Make it a priority to read. 

Over the next week, I will also be sharing my thoughts and advice on preparing your medical directive {living will} as well so keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, make it a priority this year to get your will taken care of if you haven’t already. We owe it to our children and those we leave behind to protect them and make the process of settling our affairs as easy as possible. I know it’s not a happy thing to think about but it’s reality and we never know what life will give us on a daily basis. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? 


Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

12 comments:

  1. Ugh. Grown up stuff. But so so so necessary. I don't even want to think about something happening... But alas not everything can be controlled (no matter how hard I try).

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    1. Exactly. As I said before, better to be safe than sorry!

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  2. I tell my fiance that we need to get a will, with him being a police officer anything can happen at the drop of a hat & I want to make sure we are both covered!! Love this post!

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    1. Thanks, Kara! I hope you guys can get one done soon. It's so important!

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  3. This is something that every parent needs to have in place. It might be uncomfortable to talk about but think of your child(ren).

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  4. I had just told my husband how we need life insurance and I honestly forgot about this big TO DO list. Thank you! Being an adult is hard stuff!

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    1. I sometimes like to tell my daughter, "Don't grow up. It's a horrible, horrible lie." haha. But seriously, sometimes its no fun but SO necessary.

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  5. So, so, so important. I need to get on this ASAP.

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    1. Yes! Make it a goal to do this year! Hope you're having a great week. :-)

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  6. Best post ever. We've been in the...we need to sometime soon category since Aria was born. We both are pretty clueless as to where to start, so thank you for sharing this. No detail is too small so keep em coming.

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  7. such a terrible thing to think about, but it is so necessary. without having plans in place if something bad happened, it would make that situation so much worse. good reminder for everyone.

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