August is National Make-a-Will Month, a gentle reminder to some seven in ten Americans who don’t currently have a will or estate plan that it’s never too early to complete this important step in charting their end-of-life journey.
Sam Young – senior director of legacy and planned giving with the group Compassion & Choices – said having a Legally Valid Will is a powerful way to protect your loved ones, make important decisions about the future on your own terms, and support the causes you value.
“This is something that is really a critical and essential document for every person to have,” said Young, “and it’s something that we want to encourage them and help them complete.”
Many people think wills are just for the rich, but Young said no matter what your “estate” includes, everyone needs a plan.
Compassion & Choices has partnered with the firm Free Will to help Coloradans get their affairs in order, in the comfort of their own home, with a free and easy-to-use online tool available at compassionandchoices.org.
Tayo Okunade is the founding partner at the Denver-based law firm Okunade, LLP – which specializes in helping families navigate probate, the legal process of assigning who will receive heirlooms, property and financial assets.
He said completing a will can help heirs and extended family members avoid potentially contentious debates on what the deceased might have wanted, and costly legal fees.
“When there isn’t a will, there’s uncertainty about how assets are distributed and who they go to,” said Okunade. “That’s when those parties find themselves in court.”
More than half a million people have used the Free Will platform to complete a Legally Valid Will. Young said for many, it brings peace of mind about the future, and there is no obligation to do anything after you print it out.
He encouraged anyone who hasn’t completed this important task to give it a try.
“It really takes you through a process where you can complete the will, you can review it, and you can complete the process in about 20 minutes,” said Young. “You’re one click away from getting started, and I always like to use, from the Nike ad, ‘Just do it.’ “