When Should You Create a Will?

January 14, 2021   -  

Wills are often associated with wealthy elderly individuals, but there are several reasons why you should establish one sooner no matter your income or possessions. Here are some guidelines to use when trying to determine when you should create a Will.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • What is a will?
  • At what age should you create a will?
  • Life event you should consider creating a will
  • What happens if you die without a will?

What is a Will?

A will (formally known as a last will and testament) is an estate planning document that outlines how you want your assets distributed after your death. It also lets you name the executor who will handle the administrative duties of wrapping up your after-death details. The main components of a simple will are:

  • Naming your executor and beneficiaries
  • Appoint a guardian for minor children
  • Outlining your assets, property, and debts

You need a will because it grants you control over your possessions, although you are no longer present. Additionally, preparing your will before you pass can sometimes expedite or bypass the probate process.

What Age Should You Create a Will?

The short answer? As soon as you turn 18. However, creating a will is more dependent on your assets and personal situations rather than your age. We recommend speaking with a legal professional to help you understand when your life may qualify you to benefit from a will.

The most common factors that determine if you’ll benefit from a will are your marriage status, having minor children, and your current assets and debts.

Marriage Status

You and your spouse likely share many assets, and you may also own some individually. Having a will is a great way to ensure that your spouse can inherit your assets with little to no resistance.

It is also helpful to name your spouse the executor of your estate. Listing your spouse as an executor can ease the process of transferring assets since your spouse will probably have the best access and knowledge of various documents needed. Outlining what goes to your spouse can also help prevent disputes about your possessions between your spouse and your grieving family.

Having Minor Children

To protect your children in the instance of your passing, you’ll want to name a guardian for them in your will. Your will should also ensure that you can control how your child’s inheritance is managed until they are legally able to claim it.

If you’re concerned about your child having a large sum of money before they develop adequate money management skills, you should speak with a legal professional about setting up a trust.

You Have Assets & Debts

Wills can benefit you if you own the following:

  • Checking or savings account
  • Cash savings
  • Investment accounts
  • Vehicles
  • Real estate property

You should also detail your debts inside of your will. At the time of your death, your estate becomes responsible for paying these debts. The assets in your estate will be used to pay off your outstanding debts.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

If you were to pass away without a will, this means that your estate dies intestate. The intestacy laws of your state determine how your assets (excluding those not usually determined by your will) are split. In intestate, the court typically divides your assets among your remaining kin.

If you die without a will or other legal document that identifies a guardian, the court will also have to appoint a guardian for your child. The judge usually tries to appoint the most fitting individual who’s in the best interest of the child, but it’s always best if you guarantee over who raises your children in your absence.

Make Sure Your Will Counts

You are the deciding factor on when you should create a will. Luckily, preparing a will has become simplified over the years, with many websites allowing you to prepare one online affordably. Some states like Texas and California even allow you to handwrite a will, called a holographic will.

However, we always recommend seeking legal advice to ensure that your will is comprehensive and valid. As you progress through life, you’ll need to update your will to reflect any changes in your life. Additionally, you’ll want to keep your will in a safe spot that is both easily accessible in an emergency and where your loved ones can access as well if you pass unexpectedly.

Check out The Postage’s document storage features to learn how you can keep your will secure for yourself and your loved ones.