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When to Start Planning Your Will

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last will and testament attorney

When you’re a child, most of the major decisions in your life are made by your parents. As you age, you take on more autonomy. This means deciding what happens with your life and estate. A last will and testament attorney can help you put your thoughts into order and organize your assets. The question is, when do you need to start planning your will? Although the plans will – and should – evolve over time, the truth is it’s never too early to get started.

After 18

As soon as you turn 18 (or become legally emancipated), you are fully in charge of your estate. You oversee major decisions regarding your life. Most young adults, however, don’t have much of an estate to worry about. However, there are certain aspects of a will you should have readily available. A will does more than just divide up your assets upon your death. It also helps dictate what should happen to you, should you become incapacitated.

A will for young adults will be relatively short and mainly consists of a few different documents. Once your healthcare is your responsibility, it’s important to complete a healthcare power of attorney and an advanced health care directive. These, along with a HIPAA release form, will help those close to you decide how to handle your healthcare should you become comatose or otherwise unable to make decisions on your own.

After 30

As you age, you’ll likely start to amass assets of your own, such as a house, vehicles, and maybe a business. Formalizing your will as you gain more of an estate is important, especially if you have children. A will is used to determine who will care for your children in the event of your death. When beginning your will in earnest, it’s vital to name an executor of your will. This person will be someone you can trust to ensure that your will is enacted fully and that all provisions are followed.

As you begin the process of making your will, it’s time to think about how your property and assets are going to be divided. In your 30s, you may not have as many assets as someone with more life experience, but what you do have is important to you and your family. 

At this point, start considering who your inheritors will be. You can name any inheritors in your will. If you do not have a will or do not name inheritors in it, the law will divide your assets according to next of kin status. If you wish to leave behind any of your estate to non-family members, you need to include them in your will.

After 40

Most people wait until at least their 40s before beginning their will, if they start one at all. If you haven’t already made a will by now, this is the prime time to do so. In your 40s and 50s, you’ll likely have amassed the majority of your assets. Although businesses and families can still grow, you’ll have a good estimate of how your estate will need to be handled in the case of your death.

This is also a good time to start considering other factors to help your loved ones as time goes on. If you haven’t already, you should start investing in a life insurance plan and begin your retirement fund in earnest. A will protects your assets, but these additional plans are more geared to protect your loved ones.

After 60

There are many people who wait until they are sick or elderly to start their will. Although it’s always advisable to start early, it’s better to start late than never. There is one benefit to not starting your will until your 60s: you’re less likely to experience changes to your estate and assets. This means you won’t need to worry about updating your will to account for these changes. However, putting all of your estate together and deciding how to dole it out can be time-consuming. It’s easier to start early and update as you go. However, as long as you make out your will before you pass, your assets will be in good care.

Contact a Last Will and Testament Attorney for Help

It’s never too early to start planning your will. Attorney Sarina Hager is a skilled and qualified last will and testament attorney who can help you put your will together. She has been helping clients organize and enact their wills since she started practicing law in 1993. If you’re ready to ensure the safety of your estate and begin planning your will, call the Hager Law Firm at (903) 466-0001 to get started.

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