There are plenty of how-tos for when it comes time to write a will, but that doesn't answer the question of when "when" becomes "now."
Having a will can make things easier for those you leave behind but it's often not done. More than half of U.S. adults don't have a will according to a 2007 study by Harris Interactive.
People who are young and healthy don't want to think about dying. People who are dying often aren't in a position to write a will.
It's time to stop thinking of wills as only for the elderly. There are key points in your life when writing or updating a will should be important to you.
Most people don't write a will the day they turn 18 but if you don't have one yet, it's a good time to write one. All adults should have at least a basic will in case the unthinkable happens.
Estate planning isn't just for the rich. Writing a will can specify who will plan your funeral and deal with expenses. If you have children or other dependent family members, it can determine who cares for them.
Once you have a will in place that doesn't mean the task is complete.
Your will should reflect how you want to settle your life when you're gone. Any time you have a major life event it's a good idea to go through the will and make sure it still reflects your wishes.
Events like marriage, having a child, divorce, and retirement all have a significant impact on your life and are good times to review and update your will.
As your financial life gets more complicated, writing your own will gets harder. To make sure that your will is enforceable, check with an attorney and get their help for writing inheritances with more than one beneficiary.
For the same reasons you buy life insurance, you write a will to make sure loved ones are taken care of when you're no longer around. Updating your wishes after significant life events means that nothing is left out. So here's to your health, and your family's security.
- Checklist: Reasons to Update Your Will & Estate Planning Documents (FindLaw)
- Ten Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid (FindLaw)
- Can You Write Your Own Will? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)