As a single woman, how important is it that I have a will? Is this something I should be concerned about?
That all depends. Under most circumstances it's advisable for you to have a will, but the precise course of action you should follow will be determined by the specifics of your situation.
Obviously, if you are a divorced or widowed mother of dependent children, it is critical that you have a will as this determines not only how your children are provided for financially, but also who has responsibility for caring for them in your absence. If you don't have one, then you should engage the help of a lawyer in drafting one as soon as possible. If you do, it's vital to review and update your will on a regular basis – possibly once every year.
If you are single with no dependents, a will may still be important. For instance, if you own property of any kind, you need to have a will prepared to ensure that it will be distributed as you wish. The more assets you accumulate over the years, the greater the need for a testamentary document of some kind. Because they don't have the responsibilities of children, a single person can often engage in a significant amount of charitable giving through a wisely constructed estate plan. Since we are firm believers in the importance of giving, we'd strongly encourage you to consider such an approach.
When you don't have a will prepared, you place the burden of distributing your property on someone else who may or may not understand your values and desires. That's why it's wise to lay your plans now – before it's too late. Many people procrastinate when it comes to making provisions for the transfer of their wealth. We all gravitate towards easy and routine actions rather than the difficult and important ones. We're also intimidated by the emotions that might be brought to the surface by a frank and open discussion of a subject like death. Such emotions are understandable, but they don't change the fact that we are all responsible to steward the resources God has entrusted to our care in the wisest manner possible.
If you need help applying these thoughts to your personal situation, please don't hesitate to give our Gift and Estate Planning staff a call. They would be happy to listen to your concerns and assist you with some practical suggestions. You can contact them Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Mountain time at (800) 782-8227.
Specific Steps for Estate Planning: Ron Blue gives six steps for creating a plan for transferring wealth to your heirs.
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