Nearly 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. do not have a will, according to a survey conducted by Caring.com, and you may be one of them. A will is an essential estate planning document that outlines what should happen to your assets after you die. Without a will, state law dictates what will happen to your property.
If you do not have a will, one of the reasons why you may put off its creation is because you do not know if you need one or not. Although it is generally better to always have a will, there are some life situations where you need one and others where you may not.
Life situations that warrant creating a will
If you experience any of the following life situations, you should seriously consider creating a will:
- You married. This will ensure that your spouse receives your assets upon your death if this is what you desire.
- You have one or more children. Creating a will lets you distribute your assets to your children according to your desires in addition to naming a guardian for them.
- You have a positive net worth. If you have a will when you die, this will make it easier on your family to properly distribute your assets.
You should plan on updating your will if you experience changes relating to your marriage, children or net worth. For example, if you get divorced or go back to school and go into debt, you should revisit your will. You should also update your will every time you have another child to include him or her in your estate.
Life situations where you may not need a will yet
Since your will determines who receives your assets upon their death, you may not need a will if you do not have any sizeable assets. For instance, if you are young, single, possess significant student debt and do not have any children, you may not need a will at present.