Most people spend very little time thinking about death. In fact, many do their best to avoid the subject, choosing, at least temporarily, to ignore the inevitable. Many notable individuals have died without a will, including Abraham Lincoln. More recently, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, died without a will, despite being worth around $80 million. 

As with most parts of life, a little planning can go a long way.

Writing a will is one way to plan how your assets, both personal and business, will be distributed at death. Yet despite the fact that most understand its importance, a majority of Americans, around 70% of adults, have failed to write a will or any kind of estate plan. This is due to many factors: avoidance (as discussed above), cost, and belief that their current net worth doesn’t warrant any kind of estate planning.

Wills are not just for the wealthy. If you have a bank account, you should probably have one. A survey of attorneys in east Idaho shows that a simple will will cost between $500 and $1250. If that’s too much to swallow, a legal clinic or online provider like LegalZoom will cost around $100. Once the will is prepared, you will print it out and sign it in front of two witnesses and a notary.

Many states, like Idaho, allow you to write your own handwritten will. A handwritten will does not have to be notarized, but it must be handwritten (not typed or printed) and signed. Idaho Legal Aid has prepared this pamphlet with more information about handwritten wills.

Having a will becomes more important as your net worth increases, but becomes absolutely necessary once you have children. Should you and your spouse die at the same time, a court will decide who will raise your children if you fail to create a will with a guardianship provision. 

Read this article to learn more about the main elements of a will as well as other end of life planning you should consider. 

This article discusses the importance of estate planning for all stages of life.

What happens if someone dies without a will? In such a case (known as dying intestate), each state has laws to determine how assets are to be distributed. Read this article to learn more about Idaho’s intestacy laws.