The last couple weeks have brought several high-profile deaths to the forefront of our newsfeeds and conversations. The loss of Aretha Franklin was not only a big one for the music community, but also for her loved ones. What was shocking for me to learn was that she had not prepared a will or instructions for after her death. Five people have already petitioned the court to be listed as an interested party in her estate. The likelihood of her estate ending up in limbo for years is high because there was no will in place. This can lead to a lot of tension in the family, which can have negative ramifications for decades beyond.

Caring.com surveyed American adults and more than half do not have a will. In the Caring.com article a financial coach says:

“I think many Americans avoid setting up a will because they simply don’t want to think about their death… However, setting up a will not only takes care of your loved ones financially, it can save them a lot of emotional stress after you’re gone.”

Loved ones have a lot to deal with after a death. From taking care of physical belongings, closing accounts, planning arrangements, etc.; the additional stress of dealing with the estate can prolong all of the stresses and emotions for many more years than is necessary. Additionally, your treasured possessions may not end up in the hands of whomever you would have wanted to receive them.

If you have children, it is so important for you, not the courts, to dictate who you would want to raise them.

Don’t know where to start? Do some research online and look around your community for any local organizations that help with will preparation or can help answer questions. There is no excuse to not have this information down in writing, whether you’re 36 or 63.

Don’t know where to start? Check out our Planning Ahead page for ideas on where to start and how to have the tough conversations.