Whatever your age, the answer to this question is a resounding “no.” While many of us think that wills are only for older people and those with lots of money and things, nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, creating a will when you’re younger can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out regarding child custody, property distribution and medical directives if tragedy should strike.
Why People Put Off Creating a Will
There are several reasons why people don’t create wills and estate plans – especially younger people. Some of those include:
Not getting around to it. That’s likely the No. 1 reason for not creating a will – that we simply don’t get around to it – despite our best intentions. No one likes to think about death, and many young people have a sense of immortality. While we all hope for a long life, the reality is that many people pass away before their time.
People who die without a will have no say in how their money and possessions are distributed. For childless single adults without wills (intestate), South Carolina law usually directs their property to go to surviving parents or siblings. For married people, property generally goes to the surviving spouse.
But that might not be the way you would like your assets to be distributed if you passed away.
Without clear guidance and when circumstances are atypical, decisions about property and custody issues regarding young children may be left to the courts – which may not do what you intended.
Wanting to wait until life is more settled. Your will can be changed at any time, so there’s no need to think your life is not yet settled enough for you to make one. The language of a will is also flexible enough that it may be drafted to address situations that may arise in the future.
In addition to a will, you may also plan ahead by executing a:
Living will. Also known as an advanced health directive, this documents your wishes pertaining to health care should you become incapacitated.
Living trust. This transfers title to and authority over your property should you become incapacitated, but leaves you as the estate’s beneficiary. A living trust includes a distribution plan for assets of the trust and protects the trust’s property from probate, the legal process of establishing the validity of a deceased person’s will and administering the estate.
Power of attorney. Also known as a durable power of attorney, this provides authority to an appointee you name to handle your financial affairs should you become mentally or physically unable to do it yourself. A clear power of attorney ensures the court will not appoint someone else to take this role.
All of these can be changed when life’s circumstances change.
I’ve got plenty of time. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case – as much as we’d all like to believe it’s true. The bottom line is that effective estate planning allows you to have your say about how your assets will be distributed after you pass away, direct the transfer of your assets according to your wishes and minimize estate and transfer taxes.
It also allows you to name guardians for any minor-age children who survive you and your spouse. For unmarried partners, either of the same or opposite sex, there may be special provisions to make sure that your surviving partner and children get everything they should.
Don’t Risk Having Your Wishes Ignored: Create a Living Trust or a Living Will
Every adult should have a will that sets out what you want to happen to your possessions and children when you die. Other estate-planning tools let you plan ahead for situations in which you cannot make financial and health care decisions for yourself.
An experienced South Carolina estate-planning lawyer can help you to make sure that your wishes are not ignored. It’s never too early to take that step.