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When do You Need to Have a Will?

10/19/2016

When Do You Need to Have a Will?

Contemplating your own demise is not something that anyone actually enjoys doing. But having a will properly prepared can give you peace of mind knowing that when you do pass away, your loved ones will know that you cared enough about them to get past that discomfort.

An article in The Week asks “When should I write a will?” Here is a list of some life events that provide good reason to write a will:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Things change. Your will should too. As you go through the inevitable changes of life, from family relationships, economic changes, shifting personal priorities, you will undoubtedly wish to change how your assets are distributed. Estate documents should be reviewed every few years to ensure that your wishes are still reflected in your planning.

Reference: The Week (September 29, 2016) “When should I write a will?”

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