We all want to put this off: who wants to think about their own death—and then plan for it? Even though it’s a bit uncomfortable, detailing what will happen to your assets will let you be assured that your assets will go to the right people and places.
A recent article in The Week asks “When should I write a will?” According to the article, here is a list of some life events that provide good reason to write a will:
- You had your 18th birthday. In most states, you’re a real adult, and this is your first opportunity to write a legally valid will.
- When you’ve saved up some money or assets. Of course, the concept of "some money" will be different for everyone. The point is that if you die without a basic will, you'll be "intestate." If that happens, your estate will be settled in accordance with state law, which will determine who inherits your assets. The way in which those assets will be divided among heirs varies from state to state, so without your specific instructions, they might end up being distributed very differently than you wanted.
- When you get married… or divorced… or remarried. These changes are important reasons to write or rewrite your will. Some state laws say that if you had a will before your marriage, it may be invalid when you wed.
- When you have kids and when they grow up. A will guarantees your children are provided for exactly the way that you intend. You should name a guardian for your minor children in the event that both parents die. All this may change when they become adults, and you may even want to name one of them to be your executor.
- When you start a business. You should consider your succession plan, if you want family or someone else to take over the business. If you leave the company to several individuals, think about what share of the business will go to each.
- You purchase a home. This is going to make a big change in the worth of your estate and could impact the beneficiaries you choose to name and how much you leave them. In some instances, purchasing a home means a move to a new state. You need to consult an estate planning attorney about the laws for wills for your new state.
- It's been how many years? There will be numerous variables that can affect how you opt to distribute your estate. These include changes in personal priorities, family relationships, as well as tax and estate regulations. You need to review and update your estate planning documents every few years.
Reference: The Week (September 29, 2016) “When should I write a will?”