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Column

Even young people need will power

Dear Dave,

Why do I need a will if I’m still young and haven’t acquired a lot of wealth?

– Laura

Dear Laura,

In a case like yours, you don’t need a complicated will. But you do need an inexpensive, basic will. The larger and more complicated your estate is, the more you’d spend on estate planning and a will in order to ensure everything is properly addressed – and to keep the government’s hands off everything.

Let’s say you’re in your early- to mid-twenties and single. You have a car and a bank account, and that’s it. In this kind of scenario, it’s going to be easy to work through your estate. But it’s going to take your parents – or whoever’s left – a whole lot longer to get those few simple transactions taken care of if you don’t have a will in place.

The other thing you’ll always want to have in your will package is a healthcare power of attorney directive. This includes things like who’s going to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. As a part of this, you’d want to fill out the paperwork on whether to disconnect life support systems in the event of a coma. These things aren’t fun to think about, but doing it will take a huge burden off the people you love. And all this becomes even more important if you have children, because the state will step in and decide what happens to them if you don’t.

Having these things laid out ahead of time, and sharing them with your family and close friends, is a very thoughtful and mature thing to do for those who would be left behind in the event of your death. They’re already going to be distraught and grieving, and you don’t want to make it worse by leaving them with a lot of important, difficult decisions to make.

– Dave

Keep your home – and eat there

Dear Dave,

My wife and I are on Baby Step 2, and the only debt we have is $90,000 in student loans. We bring home about $90,000 a year. In addition to this, we have almost $60,000 in equity in our home. We also have a toddler, plus another baby on the way. Do you think we should sell the house, and rent for a few years, while using the money from the sale of the house to pay down our student loan debt?  

– Chris

Dear Chris,

No, I wouldn’t sell your home in this situation. You’re going to be out of debt in a couple of years or so, anyway. You’ll just have to lean into it, and make sure you’re living on a strict, written budget. I’m talking about no vacations, and no eating out. You shouldn’t see the inside of a restaurant unless you’re working there. And the new kid’s crib may have to come from a garage sale, but so what? Mine did, too. Want to know something else? I survived without having a rich kid’s nursery, and so did my kids.

There’s a price to be paid anytime you decide to get serious about gaining control of your money and cleaning up a financial mess you’ve made. You’re going to have to work like maniacs and have no lives for a while. That might even mean picking up a part-time job at night or on weekends. You’ve got a tough couple of years ahead of you, but I think it’s worth the tradeoff.

Keep your house.

–Dave

Follow Dave on Twitter (@DaveRamsey), or go to daveramsey.com.

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