By Charlestien Harris
Covid-19 has forced many of us to take a closer look at our finances and estate planning. Often overlooked, finances are a big part of the survival of family members after the death of a loved one. It is a subject that most people don’t like to think about or discuss.
Just as death is a fact of life, another fact is that most people don’t have a will, a health care directive or a durable power of attorney. Many people think you need to have an excessive amount of money or huge assets to have a will drawn up. That is simply not the case. You will nearly always need at least one of the above-mentioned documents to keep order and to help organize your finances after you are gone, no matter how much wealth you have.
Death can put a strain on any family’s budget, especially if the main breadwinner dies and leaves no provision for future financial needs or expenses. A 2016 Gallup poll found that more than 30 percent of Americans 65 and older didn’t have a will, nor did more than 40 percent of people ages 50 through 64.
Just like talking about a budget can be difficult to discuss, a will is another subject that most people do not like to talk about either. However, most times when family members know how the finances have been laid out it brings a sense of relief.
Sadly, many people believe that a will is expensive, and they can’t afford to have one drawn up. One of the reasons I am sharing this information is because I want to set the record straight about the average cost and provide credible sources to accomplish the task of having a will made.
Let me start with the free options such as www.joincake.com or www.freewill.com. These options offer very basic online documents that are easy to access and use simple language. The next online options are very low cost at $99 or below, and they can be found at www.gentreo.com or www.nolo.com. Creating a will at www.trustandwill.com is only $89 for an individual, plus an additional $70 to add a spouse. You can save and share documents by creating an account with an email address and password on the sites.
If you want to involve a lawyer you can expect to spend anywhere from $350 to $1,000.00 in Mississippi or Arkansas for a basic will package. You can find a lawyer at www.naela.org/findlawyer or www.naepc.org. There are other less expensive options when it comes to obtaining legal services. Pro Bono services can be found at www.abafreelegalanswers.org and local state legal aid offices may also provide some assistance. Some local law schools also offer free to lost cost legal clinics.
During past VITA Super Saturdays, Southern Bancorp has teamed up with those type of legal services. Participants were able to have their taxes prepared for free and have legal documents prepared at no cost.
One fact you want to remember when having a will drawn up is to follow your state’s rules precisely so that your will is valid. It is most definitely advantageous to you and your family if you would take the time to rework your budget to include a will. You will be so glad you did! Until next week, stay financially fit!