13 Things I Learned When Attempting To Write My First Will

    It's not fun, but it's necessary.

    There's a reason most Americans don't have a will — thinking about your own death and deciding who should deal with your life post-mortem is a depressing task.

    But as a new mom, it felt like it was something I had to do. Especially because I wouldn't want my kid to be in limbo while they sort out a guardian. (Or to have my savings be at the mercy of the state.)

    To guide me down this uncomfortable path, I interviewed Patrick Hicks, general counsel at Trust and Will, an online estate planning service.

    1. For starters, a will includes more than just information on who gets what and who will care for your children and pets — it also addresses your feelings toward life support and what you want to happen with your body after you die.

    2. Because of that, a will isn't just for elderly, rich people — it's for anyone over the age of 18.

    Three teens sitting together on the ground

    3. It's especially helpful for people who have unusual requests or are in non-traditional relationships.

    4. You don't have to hire an attorney to help you put together a will — you can write one on your own or use an online service.

    Woman looks a papers on the floor with her laptop open

    5. But you need to make sure the document will hold up in court.

    6. If you don't want to put your assets through probate, you'll need to write a trust, in addition to a will. 😬

    Woman looks disgusted

    7. Keep in mind that certain assets — like life insurance and retirement — aren't distributed by your will.

    Man looks at computer in the night

    8. Once you have a will, you need to sign it, have witnesses sign it, and potentially get it notarized.

    9. In addition to the money in your savings account, you can include things like family heirlooms and cryptocurrency in your will.

    Book with old photos inside

    10. Probably the hardest part about writing a will, at least for me, is selecting guardians for your kids and pets.

    11. Nominating someone who lives out of the country, or even out of the state, can make things tricky. So can nominating a non-family member.

    Concerned woman looks out the window

    12. As life changes, you'll need to update or rewrite your will.

    Man writing at a table

    13. In short, writing a will is difficult, but necessary — especially if you have unusual or specific requests as to who gets what, where your kids and pets end up, and what the end of your life looks like.

    What do you think? Will you be making a will? Sound off in the comments!

    And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts