I'm taking my husband to write a will for Valentine's Day. Here's how the process works and why it's key for parents.

I'm taking my husband to write a will for Valentine's Day. Here's how the process works and why it's key for parents.
This is the first year Jen Glantz and her partner are celebrating Valentine's Day as parents, and they're thinking about the future.Courtesy of the author
  • My husband and I typically spend Valentine's Day celebrating in a romantic way.
  • But this year is the first time we're celebrating as parents, and I want to do something practical.

I've been with my partner for almost a decade. Over the years we've spent Valentine's Day doing a lot of traditionally romantic things, like eating candlelit dinners at our favorite Italian restaurant and treating ourselves to a couples massage at a local spa.

But this year we're celebrating our first Valentine's Day as new parents. Instead of buying roses, chocolates, and gifts, I had an idea for doing something more practical. I told my partner that this year I'm paying for us to get a will.

While the idea of sitting down with a third party and mapping out what you want to happen when you die might not seem romantic, I disagree. The key to a strong, healthy, and happy relationship is being on the same page.

We plan everything else — getting a will together just makes sense

My partner and I often map out activities months in advance, save up for bucket-list vacations, and set goals we can work on together weekly, like cooking every recipe in our favorite cookbook.

We're great at working together on a game plan for our lives; it made sense that we also start making one for our deaths.


We met with a trusts-and-estates attorney, Tracy Craig, to learn more about what goes into a will and the decisions we need to make before we get one. Here's what we learned.

Having a will helps make other people's lives easier

One of the biggest reasons I wanted my husband and myself to get a will was to make dealing with our eventual deaths easier on my daughter.

While at first my husband protested the idea of meeting with an estate planner since we're both only 35, Craig said a major benefit of having a will is that it makes it easier for the people in your life once you die.

"If you don't have an estate plan, or one that doesn't work properly, people in your life might not have access to the assets that they need, or they might be unable to make decisions that they need to," she said. "The solution to these problems when you don't have a will can be expensive, time-consuming, and invasive."

We'll need to pick a guardian for our child in the will

The first thing we realized we'd need to figure out for our will is who would take care of our daughter, who's almost 1, if we both die while she's a minor.


Since we both have parents who are alive, as well as siblings, not noting outright who we'd want to be our child's guardian could open her up to a custody battle.

"It could be left up to the court to decide the guardian based on what they believe is in the best interest of the child," Craig said.

Knowing that that information needs to be in our will forced us to begin the conversation about who her guardian would be. Though we haven't agreed on who to select, we've set a deadline for ourselves to pick someone by the end of February.

We're taking inventory of our assets

Craig explained that there are other decisions to make about what we put into our will.

First, we have to pick an executor, who'd be in charge of carrying out tasks like paying off debt and taxes and making sure assets and property are distributed to beneficiaries.


Then we need to assess our assets to determine what would go in the will, such as bank and brokerage accounts, real estate, vehicles, and other personal property of value (including furniture, jewelry, artwork, clothes, and technology). Craig said assets that are co-owned, owned in a trust, or already have a listed beneficiary don't need to go in a will.

We decided a good next step would be to meet with our financial advisor to take inventory of our bank and brokerage accounts so that we can assess what to include, how it should be divided, and which assets already have beneficiaries.

Though we don't have many assets at the moment, like real estate or a vehicle, Craig said the will we create this year can be changed in the future.

"If you want to make small changes, you can do a codicil, which allows you to change a provision in the will," she said. "It's usually quick and not expensive to do."

She also said you can revoke a will and create a new one. "A benefit of doing that is that when you die, your will is public record, so if you don't want people to see previous decisions, you can create an entirely new will and revoke the old ones," she said.


Getting a will is going to cost about $2,000, which is more than I planned to spend

Craig told us the cost of drawing up a will can depend on where you live.

When I priced out options in New York City, I learned it could cost close to $1,800 for both my partner and me to get a will, along with healthcare and financial power-of-attorney documents. Those are important in case you're unable to make financial or medical decisions on your own behalf.

Though this was more than I planned to spend for this Valentine's Day gift, I decided to save and budget to have them completed by April.

Craig said that when I'm ready to move forward, I should find an attorney I feel comfortable working with, since estate planning can be emotional and deeply personal.

"You're going to talk about dying with this person and tell them about your family, relationships, and assets," she said. "If you work with someone you don't feel comfortable with, you might not give them all the information needed to get the right estate plan. If you don't get the right estate plan, then there could be problems later on."