It’s no secret that families today are busy. From the carpool to endless after school activities, plus work that seems to follow you home, many young parents and professionals feel overwhelmed by the stage of life they’re in. According to a Pew research study, one in three parents say they always feel rushed, while over half say they often do.
With all this hurrying and busyness, it’s no wonder that the long-term to-do’s get lost in the shuffle. One great example: writing a will. Many parents and young professionals think they’re too young to need a will or that they can put it off until later. Not so says Texas Legal attorney, Tom O’Leary, who handles basic estate planning.
“It’s the set of documents that you absolutely have to have, but hope that you never have to use,” says O’Leary, whose practice Hudson & O’Leary is located in Austin.
Young couples need a will for two big reasons, says O’Leary: to take care of their children and their assets.
“A young family needs a will that would also list a guardian in case you and the other parent die,” says O’Leary. “That way your wishes are being taken care of instead of a court settling a fight between your mom and your mother-in-law.”
Although it may be painful to think about naming a guardian for your children, it’s an essential step, says O’Leary. But taking care of your assets is just as important, he says, even if you think you don’t have any.
“Number one, if you have any real property, like a house – even though you may only put down $10,000 on a $300,000 home – you need a will,” he says.
Maybe you don’t have anything now, O’Leary says, but a will isn’t just for the now – it’s for the future too.
“Let’s say that you buy a house, or you save some money, this is a contingency document, not just a ‘Right now I don’t have anything document,” says O’Leary.
Another step O’Leary encourages all his clients to do: name a beneficiary on any account or insurance policy they may have, no matter how small. Why? If you die without naming a beneficiary, your family can’t access the money, and going through the legal system can cost them more than what you have in the account if it is a small amount.
“I can’t tell you how many times you have somebody coming into the office. Their uncle died and he really didn’t have a lot of assets, but he had $3500 in a bank account,” says O’Leary. “I ask the family if they are named on the account, and when the answer is no, I explain that they’re going to spend $3500 in legal fees to get that $3500.”
Although it may not feel important now, and you may never even have to use your will or other estate planning documents, O’Leary emphasizes how many headaches you can avoid by having the proper documents in place.
“That will can cure a lot of what seem like smaller problems that can really become a very big problem if you don’t have the will,” he says.
One reason O’Leary participates in Texas Legal is that he likes helping people get these documents without it costing them too much.
“There are so many young couples out there that don’t know some of the basic documents they need and that they can easily acquire with their Texas Legal program,” he says. “Texas Legal is going to pay for your estate planning. It’s a great value, and a very important step for every young family.”