Writing a will and setting up a plan for an estate is something that people often expect to do later or near the end of their life. Unfortunately, many are delaying an important life step that is integral to ensuring their estate and wishes are met in death.
Life is unpredictable, but you can have some control over your future. A will is the first step to ensuring your decisions are carried out – no matter what happens. As soon as you have assets or accrued wealth is when you want to consider working on your estate planning — or at least having a written will. If you are looking to get a start on your will and estate planning before it’s too late, here are a few helpful steps you can take to get started.
What Are the Important Steps Needed to Create a Will, And When Should I Write It?
Writing a will is surprisingly easy. The only requirement to a valid living will is that your wishes are physically written and signed by the testator, or the will’s maker, and that this signature is witnessed by at least two other individuals. Though, technically, you do not need a lawyer for this process, seeking legal advice when finalizing a will is the safest option. It can ensure your wishes are followed out to the extent that it is in their power to do so. It also means your estate has an advocate who understands what you want to happen.
Many people wait until they have children to develop a will. However, it is important to have some form of a living will once you reach adulthood. A will also dictates more than assigning who will inherit your assets. It also dictates how you want your end-of-life care handled, who will look after young children and other personal decisions. By having your wishes clearly stated in your will, you can prevent your family from having to make difficult decisions during a time that will already be somber and mournful for them.
When Should I Begin My Estate Planning, And When Should I Update My Estate Plans?
Having a valid will is a great first step in setting up your estate, but you need to take time to update your estate plans throughout life, especially when it comes to major life events or changes.
As you enter the working world and are able to start keeping some of your hard-earned money, you might set up a savings account. When setting this up, remember that you also want to start planning your estate. Be sure to name any beneficiary who would receive those funds in the event of your death. Similarly, if your job offers a 401(k) or retirement funds, you would also want to designate recipients of these funds upon your passing.
Marriage is another important time to reevaluate your estate plan as you start to combine assets. Many couples will set each other up as primary beneficiaries, meaning in the event of a death, your spouse will receive ownership of your combined assets or other personally designated funds and properties. This is true also if you get remarried, and in the case of divorce, you will likely want to change your plan removing your ex as a beneficiary.
Anytime your family grows, whether it’s your first child or your sixth, you will want to change your estate plan to include them as beneficiaries. You can also include other births in the family, like nephews and nieces, as well as grandchildren, adding them as beneficiaries down the road.
Other things like receiving additional assets or inheritance from other family members or even if you plan to travel for a considerable amount of time are occasions that call for changing your estate plan. Just remember, if you are undergoing any major life changes, it is a good idea to take a look at your estate plan and make adjustments as necessary.
Q: What Is the Average Age Americans Write Their Will and Begin Estate Planning?
A: The average age that most Americans begin to plan their estate and write a will ranges from their mid-30s to their early 40s. The best time to begin this is actually upon reaching adulthood. That way, you protect your potential family and keep future assets safe.
Q: When Should You Create a Trust?
A: A trust is a portfolio account that can hold any assets and important accounts that can be easily transferred to a beneficiary. The time to create a trust is if you are attempting to avoid probate when transferring your assets to a beneficiary after your passing. Creating a trust can also help avoid any fees or taxes when your beneficiaries are receiving their inheritance.
Q: When Should I Nominate a Guardian for My Child?
A: While difficult for any new parent to think about, if something were to happen to you, you need to be sure your child is taken care of. As you prepare for your first child or any subsequent children, you want to immediately include nominating a guardian for your child in writing and as part of your will.
Q: What Is the Average Amount a Child in the U.S. Receives From an Inheritance?
A: On average, the amount an individual inherits from family or parents is estimated at around $46,000 based on data collected by the Survey of Consumer Finances. This number can vary based on your family’s wealth, the number of children, and taxes or debts.
Discuss Your Estate Plan With an Attorney Today
While there is no age that dictates when you should have a will, it’s an important step in life. Sadly, many believe that only the wealthy need a will, leading to devastating results for their families. Take the steps you need to create a will and start planning your estate today. If you need help getting started, a Topeka estate law attorney is standing by to help assist with your planning. Contact us today for a consultation.