Wellness: The Importance of a Will

August 2018

Dana Fisher, Administrative Assistant at USDA Athens, knows all too well the importance of a Last Will and Testament. In June, Dana explained that her father's girlfriend passed away suddenly without a will.

"No one knows when their time may come and may think that this is not important," explains Dana. "This cannot be further from the truth. My dad's girlfriend did not get the funeral she wanted, people are handling her affairs that she never wanted (from what she had told ALL her friends). This would have all been handled the way she would have wanted had she communicated it through a will."

Even by telling family and friends, there is no way to guarantee how your affairs will be handled when you pass. The following are some of the more significant reasons to create a will:

  - Possessions: A will is a legally-binding document that lets you determine who will bequeath your property, from an expensive piece of family jewelry to a house to a sentimental household item. Without such a document, it is up to your state laws to determine how your property will be distributed, which opens up your estate to family disputes, lawsuits and hurt feelings.

  - Minors: A will is the only place to nominate a guardian that you trust to care for your children and/or dependents. Without a will, the court will appoint a guardian.

  - Pets: Ensure your beloved pet is cared for after your passing by including a caretaker in your will. You can also leave money to the caretaker to help them care for your pet.

  - Executor: Once you pass, someone has to wrap up your estate, including paying off bills, canceling credit cards and notifying banks. Since executors play the biggest role in the administration of your estate, it is important to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organized.

  - Funeral Arrangements: For some people, the exact specifications of their final resting place is important. Including these guidelines or pre-arranged plans, helps diminish the stress of your loved ones.

"People say, 'What do I care? I will be dead,' Do you really want to leave your family devastated two times over?" asks Dana. "They will be dealing with your loss from their lives and then dealing with your personal affairs with no guidance on how you would have wanted it handled. If you care about your family and how the loss of you would devastate them, don't leave them with another devastating situation of guessing how to handle your affairs."

Creating a will in today's day and age is a fairly easy process. Dana notes that creating a will for both herself and her husband only cost about $250 through an attorney. Additionally, there are many online resources available to help you without needing a physical lawyer.