When Should You Write a Will?
Timing of a Will: When People Normally Write a Will
Most people think about writing a will when they feel like they are facing death. They may feel like they could die soon, or have decided to take action for that eventuality in the future. While most of these events are negative events, some of them can even come up when something positive happens.
- going to fight in a war
- getting a serious illness
- death of someone your own age
- brush with death
There isn't any bad time to write a will, except when it is too late. Really, any time is a good time to write a will, but thinking about a will only when they are thinking about dying could leave many people without a will since they may be too busy or stressed out to actually go through the process of writing a will. After all, these are time and energy consuming situations. Also, if they haven't encountered these types of situations, they may not get around to writing a will at all.
There are better times to think about writing and updating a will.
Please note that the laws in your county, state or other locality may already have some default provisions on how to handle your estate when you die if you don't have a will. Some people are fine with letting the government decide how to settle your estate. However, you will be able to honor your friendships and possibly avoid some fighting if you let your loved ones know your wishes ahead of time.
When Should You Actually Write a Will?
If it isn't the best time to write a will when you are thinking about death, when is the best time to write a will? The best time is when you encounter a milestone in your life, and as you see, most of them are happy ones.
However, you don't have to re-write your will every single time you have a new milestone. Depending on how open ended you left your will, you may not It is simply a time to consider if the circumstances have changed enough to redraft or amend the will.
It is during these milestones when your financial situation or family situation changes in such a way that you will want to revisit your will. Go ahead and write your will now, while you are thinking about it, and as you go through the milestones in your life and the changes in your family situation, review and update your will.
Write Your Will Now!
You should go to an attorney to write a will if you have a complicated situation or if the laws in your area are particularly complex. But you shouldn't let the cost or difficulty of finding an attorney stop you from writing a will. There is inexpensive software you can buy that will easily help guide you through the process of thinking through the different factors.
You can also simply write down your wishes and have someone witness the signature. Even if your writing doesn't turn out to be legally binding, at least your family will know what you want, and they will likely try to honor it.
When You Become an Adult
As you become an adult, you will have many important events in your life. You may move out of your parents' house, form significant relationships, and buy your first treasures with your own money. Sure, the state will probably revert all of your assets to your parents, but will your parents really treasure and value everything you have? Will they simply throw away that t-shirt / sweatshirt/ DVD / CD of [insert supermodel / rock star / sports hero / other role model here] or would you prefer to give it to someone who knows will treasure it.
You may feel like procrastinating this important task, since the odds of you dying are low, but you are never too young to die, and having a will that clearly states your wishes will help make the process easier for the loved ones you leave behind.
When You Get Married
When you get married, the states will probably default to give all of your assets to your spouse. You may be fine with that, but don't you want to give at least a little something to your parents for all the hard work they went through to raise you? How about a token for your siblings for putting up with you? You may want to make sure that a precious heirloom stays in the family, even if it is only until you and your spouse have built up a history together.
If you don't get married, but have a significant other, you will definitely want to write a will if you want your partner to receive any part of your estate.
It is very important that you write a will when you have a child. As you have children, there will be default provisions on how the estate will go to the children. But you will likely want to designate who will be in charge of the children. Instead of relying on chance or the courts to choose a guardian, you can select one who will raise the child with the values, security, and environment you wish for them. You may also want to determine how that guardian will be compensated. As your relationship with the potential guardian changes, and as their circumstances change, you may want to keep considering whether they are still the right choice of caretaker.
Frequently Asked Questions
Promotions and Big Purchases
As you become established in your career, get big promotions and start making big purchases, you will want to make sure that your will is still up-to-date. You may initially have willed your Miley Cyrus poster and $10 to your best friend, but now maybe you can afford $100. You may want to remember new people who have helped you get ahead in your career path. As you purchase property or other investments, you will want to determine how the assets will be divided.
You will also want to make sure that all of your assets are designated for certain individuals and are not left out for everyone to fight over.
Children Becoming Adults
When your children become adults, you might want to remove the clauses about caretakers and trust funds, and bequeath assets directly to them.
When you get your first grandchild, you may consider willing something to them. You could update your will every time you get a new grandchild, or insert a clause that includes current and future grandchildren.
Not all milestones can be happy though. There are also some unhappy milestones that can change your situation enough for you to think about your will.
- getting divorced
- having a falling out with a family member
- death of a family member
All of these changes will require changes in your will as you find other people to act as guardians and benefit from your inheritance.
How Old Were You When You Wrote Your First Will?
The Best Time to Write a Will
The best time to write a will is now. The sooner you get your wishes down in writing, the more peace of mind you will have. Your family will also have peace of mind knowing your wishes.
Once you do it, you will find it fairly easy to simply update it from time to time. While writing a will when you are thinking about death is perfectly acceptable, it is more helpful to think about your will as you go through the important milestones in your life and the changes in your family.
© 2014 Shasta Matova