Are you part of the 57 percent of Americans that do not have a will in place? It can be easy to put off estate planning when you feel like you have your whole life ahead of you. It can be daunting to think about your death when you’re young.
Or, maybe you don’t think you have many assets to justify the effort of creating a will. After all, drawing up a will sounds time-consuming and expensive. Regardless of your financial status, it is important to know exactly who will receive and benefit from your personal belongings and assets after you pass.
Creating a will can be a very personal process that can shed some light on your life. You get to see exactly where your things will go and hopefully feel content with the people taking over your important assets.
Below, we’ve put together a list outlining the top reasons why a young person may want to consider creating a will.
1. You want to decide who gets your assets
Your immediate family members and spouse would be the recipients of your assets if you did not have a will in place and passed away.
Sometimes there are things that you might want someone specific to have. If you own anything that you would want friends or other family members to have, it is important that you officially specify this in a will.
No one wants to think about or focus on death, especially when you’re young and feel invincible. However, tomorrow is not promised to any of us, so it’s essential to iron out how you want your belongings and assets divided up among your friends and family. This will make things simple when the time comes and will put a lot less stress on you if you were ever to get sick without having a will in place.
You can also appoint an executor to carry out your final wishes and manage essential tasks like closing your credit cards and handling any debts you may owe. It’s important to hash out these details in advance so that it doesn’t get forgotten when the time comes for your family and friends to take over your assets.
Remember, you have the final say in each aspect of your assets and final requests. Feel free to appoint the person you see most fit as your executor.
2. You want to make the process easier on your family
Probate is a lengthy and expensive process in which a will is determined authentic by a court. If, for example, you have life insurance, your family would need to go to probate court before they received any of those benefits.
By completing some basic estate-planning documents, you can help streamline this process and help your family during a difficult time when they might be overwhelmed with tasks like planning a memorial. The last thing anyone wants to do while they are mourning is to handle complicated paperwork and court-related matters.
Although hard to think about, the death of a loved one can sometimes bring up resentment between living family members about the deceased’s assets. Drawing up a will may also aid in preventing familial disagreements.
Making it clear what you want to go to each family member and friend takes away any uncertainty and allows your loved ones to focus on other important matters.
Additionally, it will allow you to give a token of yourself to each of the most cherished people in your life, making for each of your family and friends to feel a special connection to you through a gift of your choosing.
3. You are in the military
If you are a military service member, it’s prudent to create an estate plan. Even if you’re 18 and you just joined the service, this includes you too. Although 18 may seem young, you could be deployed at any moment and should plan accordingly.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself, appointing someone power of attorney is important. Any legal, financial and medical decisions can be carried out by someone you trust.
4. You own a pet
Just as with important assets, determining what will happen to your animals is crucial if you’re no longer around to care for them. Pets are family and creating a plan for their future ensures peace of mind for yourself.
If there is a family member or close friend that has expressed interest in taking over the care of your animal should anything happen to you, you can add this to your will.
If you are concerned that the expense of your pet may be too great to pass along to someone else, you can specify that the profits earned from the sale of specific items go to the new owner.
This will help your family member or friend be able to care for your animal with the ease of financial backing during the difficult time of your passing. Your four-legged friends shouldn’t be forgotten when you start drafting your will.
5. You have social media accounts
If you are one of the 243.6 million people that use social media in the United States alone, chances are there is important information in your accounts.
This may include photos, documents, and possibly finances. Also, you may have memories there that you want to live on beyond your life.
It may be difficult for your family to know how to access your accounts post-mortem, or what you want to be done with your profiles.
It’s important to set up a will including the necessary information so that your loved ones can cancel or set up your account as you wish. Passwords, usernames, and instructions on whether you want your accounts canceled or left up for family and friends to visit are all important pieces of information to include in your will.
Takeaways: Will planning matters
You might be young, but if you have any assets or plans for your belongings should anything happen to you, it’s important you outline exactly who gets what in a formal will or estate plan.
Having a will in place will help you to live more freely, knowing that things will be taken care of should you pass unexpectedly.
Not only will this smooth out the process for your family and friends, but it will give you peace of mind in the meantime and allow you to focus on what really matters, spending the time that you have in love and laughter with your family and friends.
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Patrick Hicks is the Head of Legal at Trust & Will, where he oversees all estate planning offerings and corporate legal affairs. Patrick has been an estate planning and tax attorney for over a decade, previously working with individual clients to create customized estate plans for their personal and business planning needs. He believes new technologies will improve the legal industry and expand access to legal services, making it possible for everyone to access the help they need.