Why Should I Have a Will?

Many people have never had a Will or Trust drafted for them by an attorney. Maybe they don’t want to discuss personal details, they feel as if they aren’t ready to make such important decisions, or maybe they are unaware of the consequences of not having a Will. It’s common for 20-somethings to feel as though it’s just not important to have a Will right now. However, every age group can benefit from having a Will.

What people may not realize is that the State of Illinois has already written some estate planning documents for them. Those State-written documents provide for who will be the guardian of any minor children or disabled adult children you leave behind. They provide who in your family can make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions. They provide who will receive your hard-earned money and property after your death.

The good news is that you have the power to undo those documents, which are really state laws intended to fill in the gaps if you do not have a Will or a Trust or if those are somehow defective. You can have an attorney write a Will or Trust that will reflect your wishes as to the division of your property. You can also state who you want to care for your children after you are gone. More importantly, you can say who should not be allowed to care for your children after your death. Of course, a judge will make a determination as to the best interest of your children, but your wishes would be of great value and influence. An attorney could also prepare a power of attorney for healthcare where you get to decide who will make your healthcare decisions when you cannot, and you decide the standards by which that named person makes those decisions. You get to decide and describe in that power of attorney document whether or not you want to be kept alive by artificial means if your chances for recovery appear hopeless.

You have the right to specify, in another type of power of attorney, what type of mental health services you would want or not want if such became necessary. For instance, you might wish to specify that you not receive electro shock therapy.

You can also make a power of attorney for property and name an individual you know to be worthy of your trust to take care of and make decisions regarding your finances if your mental capacity greatly declines. Without such a document, a court of law may decide who should make financial decisions for you. Similar documents can help decide who can make personal decisions for you when you cannot.

The choice is, of course, left to the individual. However, please know that you have options. Explore them, so that you can make informed decisions that will have a great impact on you and yours later in life.