Spiritual Financial Planning
6 Things You Need to Know About Wills
It can be, um, a little difficult to talk or think about wills, particularly for young people. It's not exactly fun, and it might even seem a bit morbid to think so much about your death. But wills don't have to be about that. They can be about preserving unity, about giving a fireside, even about being happy in the next world. Here are six things we should all know about wills.
- Baha'u'llah wrote, "Unto everyone hath been enjoined the writing of a will."* So...yeah, that kind of seals the deal right there. But let's keep going because there are some really good reasons why we should think about a will, even if we're in our 20s.
- In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi we read that, "The execution of the provisions of the will causes the spirit of the deceased to rejoice in the Abha Kingdom."** That's guaranteed joy. It's easy to think of wills as something primarily for this world, but, according to Shoghi Effendi, it's a link between this and the next. Let's explore partly why this may be.
- A will is the best way to ensure family unity after your passing. With a will your family can know exactly who you want your home, car, books, music, computer, anything you value, to go to. A detailed will settles any questions about your belongings, and saves your family the added trouble of having to decide these things in a time of grief and loss. Also, as we're all human, there can sometimes be an element of disunity around what should happen to our belongings, particularly in such times of emotional intensity. We can largely prevent any unfortunate circumstances by deciding now what should happen after we pass.
- This one is huge if you have or want to have kids - a will is the only way to ensure your wishes for your children. If parents pass on to the next world intestate, or without a will, and any of their children are minors, then several things will likely happen. The children will likely become wards of the state (and may even live with a foster family depending on how long it takes) while the courts decide with whom they should live. The courts try to place children with family members whenever possible but the process takes time. Without a will you have no legally binding say on who should raise your children or how they should be raised.
- It is possible to write a will yourself, but unless a lawyer takes a look at it you'll never know if it's legally binding. There are several kits that come with books and you can write wills with online services, but most lawyers agree that it's best to have a lawyer at least look it over.
- Your will can be a testament to the ideals by which you strove to live and can even be your last fireside. Baha'u'llah wrote that, "The testator should head this document with the adornment of the Most Great Name, bear witness therein unto the oneness of God in the Dayspring of His Revelation, and make mention, as he may wish, of that which is praiseworthy, so that it may be a testimony for him in the kingdoms of Revelation and Creation and a treasure with his Lord, the Supreme Protector, the Faithful."* Imagine that - what you write here can be a treasure with your Lord, perhaps even passed down through your family.
If you'd like to get started on this and aren't sure where to start, you may want to approach your Local Spiritual Assembly for any recommendations on finding a lawyer. They may also have a place to store a copy of your will, such as a safety deposit box in a local bank. If you don't have access to a Local Spiritual Assembly, you may want to ask around for lawyer recommendations.
As you can see, the reasons to begin this process, whether having to do with this world or the next, are too numerous and too joyous to put off for too long.
*The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 59