Stop Avoiding Getting a Will! You Need it!
Recently I had a conversation with a friend and learned that she, a mother of two (five & two years old), did not have a will. My jaw dropped to the floor because I was on the other end of the spectrum – one month or so after my son was born, my partner and I went to see a lawyer and got a will. I wanted to leave nothing to chance! Call me crazy, call it postpartum hormones, but for all I knew, we could get in a car accident any minute and I wanted to ensure our new offspring was taken care of. After I picked up my ‘judgey’ jaw off the floor, I needed to know if my friend was in the majority or minority, so I got very official and conducted a poll with League of Moms Instagram followers. With 90 responses, I learned that 68% of the respondents did not have a will. So clearly, she was in the majority and I needed to understand why? I actually reached out to Willful – an online estate planning platform to see if they had any research to share with me (and you). They recently surveyed 650 Canadian parents and their results showed that 65% of parents with kids under 18 years old don’t have a will! You can see more of the research report below. With these stats in mind, I reached out to the League of Moms community to tell me more on why they didn’t have wills and here is what I found out.
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The Reasons Parents Don’t Have Wills:
1. Procrastinating / not a priority
I understand this completely, it’s hard to prioritize something you can’t see or feel (unless you count the paper cuts you could get) or even spending money on this when the odds are small that you’ll need it and I’m sure you would rather spend your time bonding with your new baby and getting valuable sleep. However, it’s like insurance and in the event that something does happen, not having a will in place means that the courts decide how your assets will be allocated, and who will look after your minor children, which could mean the choices you want wouldn’t be reflected. Having an estate plan in place means your wishes will be followed even when you can’t speak for yourself.
2. I don’t want to have the tough conversation
Yes, it is super awkward talking about death and thinking about the implications – specifically who to leave your children with. However, you need to remember that the likelihood of needing guardians for your children is small and highly unlikely to happen. To start the conversation put the kids to bed, make sure you are not stressed or distracted from the day and perhaps plan it with your partner as opposed to surprising them with the topic. If you have a partner that seems to be avoiding the discussion, then ask your partner why they are reluctant suggests Psychologist and Author Cindy Goodman Stulberg. Are they superstitious and think talking will make something happen? Does it remind them of their parents or loved ones’ death? Do they think it will cause an argument and you both will disagree on who to choose? If so, Goodman Stulberg suggests you address those other issues first before speaking about the specifics of guardianship.
So how do you choose the right guardian for your kids? The team at Willful suggests you consider some of the following:
1. Values – are they aligned to yours and how you want to raise your kids?
2. Geographical location – will your child have to be uprooted from their community and network?
3. Parenting style – is there parenting style similar to yours? Are they strict? Easy-going? Involved?
4. Do they have other kids and can they handle more?
5. What is their financial situation? Will your children be a financial burden (even with any money you pass on)?
One of the League of Moms members shared that she and her partner decided to select guardians that were friends instead of family using some of the criteria listed above. They didn’t share this information with their family as they didn’t think it was necessary. Goodman Stulberg agrees ‘it is your choice and you don’t really need to justify it to anyone else.’ If you choose one sibling over another, you might want to ask the chosen one not to discuss with the other sibling, or you can explain to the “not” chosen one, that you love them but feel the chosen sibling’s parenting style is more similar to your own. There is no right or wrong way to do it and it is hard to avoid hurt feelings on some issues.
3. I can’t afford a will
A few years ago, I would have agreed with you on this, your only option for creating a will was seeing a lawyer and for some people that might still be the best option. However if you have a simple estate (you can check here what defines a simple estate) then you have really cost-effective and convenient options with a platform such as Willful. Willful was launched by a husband and wife team to remove barriers such as cost and inconvenience by using software and an educational, user-friendly platform so you create a legally-binding will online for a fraction of the cost of visiting a lawyer. Think of Willful as the TurboTax for estate planning – they work with lawyers to create province-specific legal content on the back-end, and their intuitive, user-friendly platform guides customers through a series of questions about their unique life situation. After answering less than 10 questions, they create a customized plan that your family can follow, as well as a last will and testament and Power of Attorney documents that you can print and sign in less than 20 minutes, for anywhere from $99-$249. So basically, for the cost of a fancy dinner you can have a will!
4. I am waiting until my family is complete
Guess what? You don’t have to wait! With Willful you can update your will for free at any time (you’ll likely need to update it 3-5 times as you go through life events like getting married, having kids, or getting divorced).
So here is the bottom line; if you’re an adult who has assets or children, you need a will! You can visit a lawyer, use a tool like Willful, or even write your own (called a “holograph will”), but the key is to take care of it so your family is protected. Think of a will like life insurance – it’s not for you, it’s for your loved ones. If you are ready to get a will and you are a candidate for an online will then consider Willful. Willful is currently available to residents of Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Willful will be available to the rest of Canada by the end of the year.
League of Moms is excited to partner with Willful and offer 15% off to League members. Use code ‘Leagueofmoms’ and let us know about your experience!
Thank you to Willful for sponsoring this blog post so we can continue to provide League of Moms as a free resource. All opinions expressed are our own.
League of Moms / 07/07/2019