When Should You Consider Writing a Will?

No one likes to think about it, but everyone needs a will.

There are certain times in your life when you should write a will or update an existing one. This will ensure that you are saving money on court costs to settle your estate after your death and that your assets are distributed as you wish.

Here are some tips on when you should consider writing a will.

Becoming an Adult and Acquiring Assets

You can technically write a will in most states when you turn 18, the age considered a legal adult in most states. But the truth is, you may have very few assets at that age to worry about a will. As you begin to accumulate savings and assets, such as property, that is when you should consider writing a will.

For example, as a young working adult, you may begin saving money for retirement or decide to purchase a home or a new car. These assets are all owned by you and must be distributed to your beneficiaries when you die.

Younger generations typically do not consider wills important. For Millennials born between 1980 and 1995, 78% do not have wills. For Generation Xers born between 1965 and 1980, 64% do not write a will. If you do not have a will, there are laws in place that will differ by state about how those assets are distributed. Instead of your assets going exactly where you want them to, they may be distributed in a very different way.

Getting Married or Divorced

Another time in your life that writing a will makes sense is when you get married or divorced. When you marry, you can decide to leave all of your assets to your spouse with a will. If you divorce, you may decide to change your will to distribute your assets differently. Some states invalidate wills created before marriage once you are married, so it makes sense to update at that time.

When You Have Children

A will ensures that your children receive exactly what you want them to receive in the way you want them to receive it. For example, if you want your assets managed through a trust for your children, your will can define that. You will also is a document that can outline how you would like a guardian to provide for your children while they are under-age. If both parents are deceased, your will can identify a guardian to control your assets and provide for your children until they are adults.

No matter what age your children are, it is never too late to write a will. According to Caring.com’s 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study, middle-aged and older adults are less likely today to have a will than a year ago and younger adults are 63% more likely to have one than they were before the pandemic.

Opening a Business

A new business that you open is an asset that must be part of your estate when you die. Your will can identify how you want your interest in the business divided among beneficiaries and whether you have anyone in mind to take over your share of the business. If you do not address this in a will, your business interests can cause problems in the settling of your estate.

Buying Property

For most people, the biggest asset they own is their home. When you begin buying property, that is another time you should consider writing a will. You can identify beneficiaries to receive an inheritance that includes your property, either a spouse, children or other close relatives and friends. In some states, surviving spouses will receive the primary residence, but there may be other property you acquire that also must be distributed among beneficiaries.

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