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Why Every 20-Something Should Have a Will

Posted by Paul D. Woodard | Dec 13, 2016 | 0 Comments

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Most twenty-somethings do not think they need a will. Many young adults think they only need to worry about a will after they get married. Others think they are too broke to need a will, especially after accumulating thousands of dollars in college loan debt. However, even young people should consider the many benefits of having a will in place.

Regardless of age, most people in this country still do not have a will. While some do not want to think about making end of life plans, others feel they have no reason to make a will. However, people of all income levels and ages can benefit from a will. Even with modest assets, a will provides the ability to distribute your property as you see fit. Without a will, the distribution of your assets will be done pursuant to the California Probate Code.

Many people have a misunderstanding of probate law, thinking that all their property will automatically go to their spouse or children. However, property is distributed according to California's intestacy laws, and may depend on the type of property involved. In some cases, property may go to parents, brothers, sisters, or a niece or nephew. It is important to understand what happens to your property if you do not leave a will.

Another benefit of drafting a will is that it avoids the costly and time-consuming process of probate. During probate, the court will take an accounting of your property, pay debts and taxes on your property, and then distribute the property based on state law. You may be assessed court costs, appraiser's fees, and other costs associated with probate. The cost of such fees can easily eat up any property you have, leaving your friends and family with nothing.

Probate can also take months or years to be completed. Without access to your assets, your loved ones may be forced to pay for your funeral expenses out of their own pockets, putting additional stress on a family that is already dealing with grief.

Young people rarely think about the prospect of an untimely death. While you may never have to use your will for decades, it is, nevertheless, important to plan for the possibility that you may pass away. Unintentional accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, are the number one cause of death for people in their 20s. By their very nature, these accidents take their victims by surprise.

A living will is different from a traditional will and testament; however, it may be just as important for twenty-somethings to plan for in case of an accident. An advance health care directive puts provisions into place in the event an individual is incapacitated or unable to communicate. While most young people don't think about the need for a living will, a car accident, serious illness, or other injury can lead to incapacitation.

Without the ability to communicate, you will have to rely on others to make your health care decisions on your behalf. A living will provides instructions for your care so that you can be in charge of those decisions. A power of attorney will also allow you to name another individual to act as your agent to make financial or health care decisions based on your plans or wishes.

If you have any questions about making a will or other types of estate planning, Butterfield Schechter LLP is here to help. We will answer all your questions and make sure your estate plan will provide for your loved ones and keep your best interests at heart. Contact our office today with any questions on how we can help you succeed.

About the Author

Paul D. Woodard

Paul Woodard practices in the areas of Employee Benefits, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, Pension and Profit Sharing Plans, ERISA, ERISA Litigation, Business Law, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), and Estate Planning.

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