Creating a will is essential and easier than you think

Most people know they should have a will, but studies have shown that nearly 60% of Americans haven’t drafted one. Their lack of preparation could be due to the unsettling feeling caused by discussing our own mortality, but putting a plan in place may help ease anxiety. Other individuals think that creating a will is a complicated process, but a will can actually be drafted rather easily and economically through websites like legalzoom.com.

A will enables you to leave instructions on what should happen to your money, property, and even your children once you’re gone. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should draft your will now.

1. Allows you to choose a personal representative

One of the top reasons why you need a will, besides deciding who will get your prized possessions (see reason #4), is to choose who will be in charge of your estate. If you have any money or property, then guess what: You have an estate that legally needs to be distributed when you die. Within your will, you choose what is known as a “personal representative” or an “executor,” who will be in charge of the distribution of your assets. If you don’t have a will, the court will decide on a personal representative, and this decision shouldn’t be left to the court system. The court may choose your greedy cousin Earl, and nobody likes Earl. Put a will in place so you can choose a trusted person, such as a close family member, to distribute the assets you’ve worked so hard for.

2. Makes a difficult time easier to manage

Not having a will in place may add another level of stress at an already stressful time for your loved ones. In some cases, having a will allows your family to avoid going through the legal process of distributing assets through a lawyer, which can be costly!

You should also consider planning out your funeral in advance. It may sound morbid, but advance planning allows you to make financial arrangements to cover your funeral costs, which can be upward of $10,000. That’s no small amount of money for most families. Also, if your family doesn’t know your wishes when you pass, they may face difficult decisions. Choosing a casket, deciding on flower arrangements, deciding where you will be buried, and writing an obituary can be daunting tasks. Make sure you're remembered how you wish to be remembered by planning ahead.

3. Ensures your children will be taken care of

Putting a will in place is especially important if you have young children because you're able to designate a guardian to take care of them should you and your significant other both pass away before you children turn 18 years old. When it comes to the well-being of your children, you should be the one to make the crucial decisions, such as who they'll live with, and having a will in place enables you to do this.

4. Avoids disagreements between family members

Having a will in place also provides clear instructions on how you would like your assets to be distributed, which can help avoid disputes between your loved ones. If you want your collection of action figures to go to your Uncle Bill, and it's written in your will, they’ll go to your Uncle Bill. No one should dispute the instructions you have laid out in your will. Have fun with the toys, Uncle Bill.

5. Minimizes the probate process

Probate is a specialized court that deals with the property and debts of a person once they’ve passed. Regardless of whether you have a will or not, all estates go through the probate process. However, when you have a will in place, the process goes much smoother. A will gives precise instructions on how to divide your assets, which helps avoid delays in the decision-making and distribution process.

Prepare your estate plan

Estate planning is an integral part of your overall financial health, and drafting a will is one way to ensure that your money and property are taken care of when you’re gone. Take additional steps to ensure that your family is protected by designating beneficiaries on all of your financial accounts and purchasing life insurance.