I know it's not a thought that anybody looks forward to visiting but after the birth of our son, my mother strongly suggested that my husband and I look into creating a will so that we could assign who we would like to be the legal guardians of our son should anything ever happen to us. At first I couldn't go there, but over the next few months I found myself thinking about it more and more and how important setting up something like this really is. I also did some homework and found out some really interesting facts supporting why EVERY parent should have one. Here's highlights from an article I found on babycenter.com.
For parents, a will is the single most important thing you can do to make sure your child is cared for by the people you want if anything should happen to you.
This may come as a shock, but if you die without a valid will, state laws require that your property be divided according to a fairly inflexible formula. In most states your spouse would receive only about one-third to one-half of your estate — the rest would be earmarked for your children.
Sounds fine, but without a will, in some states your children's money would be controlled by a state-appointed administrator (who charges fees for the service) until each child turns 18. That means your spouse wouldn't be able to access the money to help raise your children without going through a very complicated legal procedure. And even if the courts decide that your spouse can hold the funds earmarked for your children in trust, he or she will have to supply the court with an accounting of how the money is used each year.
Moreover, if you and your partner both die without a will, the state courts and social services department will appoint someone to raise your children. And that person might have a very different opinion on the matter than you would. Even if you think you have almost no property to leave your children, it's worth making a will to make sure you get to choose their guardian.
After reading this article, I knew creating one shouldn't get post-poned any longer. I wasn't sure where to start to get ours created, but my husband had a great idea to search online for possible free clinics here in Logan. I hit the jackpot with this site which provides a listing of FREE (yes, there are qualified, real, credible lawyers available to people for FREE) legal clinics all throughout Utah. We attended this one (see below) earlier this month and had a really good experience with the lawyer we met with. We also called a babysitter and went out to dinner afterwards making it a fun date night!
Thursday Night Bar
I do suggest getting there early (we arrived a little after 5:00 p.m. and were third in line), but the wait wasn't too bad (probably around 20 min.) because they had 5 lawyers that night who met with each person/couple separately. All you'll need to bring is a pen and paper (legal pad if you have one, ha ha). When you get there, they have you fill out a very simple worksheet describing your reason for meeting with a lawyer and your contact info. Obviously you should also have in mind who you want to designate as your legal guardian and who you'd like to set up as a trustor (other than your spouse) should your property need to be put into a trust (which it will if you ever own a home).
We provided all of this info to our lawyer (sounds so official, right?) which he wrote down along with our son's name and birth date. Btw- no need to worry about re-doing your will every time you have another child or if you move because in the will it states that it applies to the first child and every child there after, plus the state of Utah has a rule that any will created in this state is also valid in any other state. Cool, huh?
A week later he mailed us our paperwork which we will be meeting with him this week to sign at his office. So yeah, not too much time out of our daily lives, especially when you think about the HUGE benefits creating one will have on your family. Plus, it was all completely FREE. We had no idea what to expect out of attending something like this, but afterwards were both very impressed and will now be highly recommending to others who are seeking the peace of mind that comes with advanced family planning.