Even if you’re young and just starting out, it’s a common misconception that wills are just for older people or those with significant assets. In reality, creating a will is an important financial and personal planning step everyone should take — even if you’re healthy and don’t have many assets.

You may wonder what goes into creating a will and why having one at this stage is advantageous. Here are five key benefits having a will offers young people:

1. Take Control of Your Future

A will won’t actively manage your income or control how your money is invested, but it can set you up for a successful financial future. It prompts you to take stock of your current financial situation, whether you’re just starting your career or looking to start a family.

Even if your assets are limited now, having a will can help you plan for building wealth, consider tax implications, and affect your future retirement accounts or debts. It can also get you thinking about your future financial goals, perhaps prompting you to save more or change your investment strategy. Knowing your wishes are documented in a will allows you to take calculated risks.

2. Prepare for the Unexpected

You probably don’t have much reason to think about what will happen after you pass when you’re young and healthy. But life is unpredictable, and having a will puts you in control of decisions that would have to be made if you were to die or become incapacitated suddenly.

Think about your most cherished personal belongings. Even if they don’t have significant monetary value, where should they go if you pass away? This is the type of question a will can clarify.

A comprehensive will can also include provisions for what should happen if you become incapacitated due to an accident, illness, or disability. This lets you name a power of attorney or guardian to manage your affairs. Another aspect you may not have considered is what would happen to your pet if the unthinkable happened. Many wills include plans for pets, such as who should take custody of the animal. You can even set up a pet trust or pet power of attorney to ensure their care.

3. Plan for Dependents

One of the biggest reasons to have a will in place when you’re young is to plan for the dependents you may have, such as minor children or aging parents. You can name a guardian to care for your children if you were to pass away unexpectedly.

By doing so, you can select someone you trust to raise your kids according to your values and wishes rather than leaving the decision up to the courts. Your will can also outline your preferences for your children’s care, education, and financial support.

For aging parents or other dependents, you may have a will that enables you to name a caretaker. Additionally, your will can establish trusts or set aside assets to be managed on behalf of dependents who may not be equipped to handle finances on their own. Creating a comprehensive estate plan while you’re young provides essential protections for the people who depend on you.

4. Help Your Family Avoid Probate

Another reason to have a will, even if you’re young, is to spare your family from the added stress and complications of the probate process. Your estate will be distributed according to North Carolina’s intestacy laws if you die without a will.

In probate, the court decides how to distribute your belongings, which can be lengthy. The court’s decisions might not align with your wishes, leading to family conflicts and complications for your loved ones during a difficult time.

Creating a will lets you describe your wishes in detail, eliminating uncertainty and documenting your preferences. It also allows you to name an executor you trust to oversee the probate process efficiently. Ultimately, having a will helps cut through red tape and eliminates the emotional burden of probate court.

5. Protect Your Digital Assets

You probably have more assets than you think, especially those stored digitally. Digital assets can include things like:

  • email accounts
  • social media profiles
  • digital photos and videos
  • online subscriptions
  • cryptocurrency
  • virtual property

Without a will, your digital footprint may be difficult for your loved ones to access after you’re gone. A will allows you to specify who should manage your accounts and assets so they can properly memorialize your profiles, preserve sentimental digital items, and handle any financial or legal matters associated with your online presence. Designating a “digital executor” in your will to oversee this process can be especially helpful.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Create a Will?

There are lots of online programs out there offering do-it-yourself estate planning solutions aimed at young people who don’t have complex estates. While these may seem like an easy and obvious choice to create your first will, it’s better to work with an estate planning attorney to ensure all your bases are covered, and everything is in order from a legal standpoint.

A lawyer can provide personalized guidance, and legal knowledge you don’t get using an online will service, so you can rest easy knowing your will fully complies with North Carolina law.

What are the Risks of Self-Made Wills for Young Adults?

Here are a few scenarios where an invalid or DIY will could cause problems, even if you’re reasonably young and don’t have a lot of assets:

Improper Witnessing or Signing

In many jurisdictions, a will must be witnessed and signed according to specific legal requirements. A DIY will may be improperly witnessed or signed, leading to the will being contested or deemed invalid. This can result in your estate being distributed according to state intestacy laws anyway, which may not reflect your wishes.

Ambiguous Language

If your will is not clearly written, its terms may be open to interpretation, causing disputes. For instance, if your will vaguely allocates “valuable possessions” without details, family members may argue over who gets any high-value items like jewelry or collectibles.

Exclusion of Essential Elements

A DIY will may inadvertently exclude crucial elements or fail to provide for contingencies, such as the birth of additional children or the predecease of a beneficiary. This can lead to situations where parts of the estate are distributed under state law, potentially against your wishes.

Failure to Address Taxes

Estate taxes can significantly affect the value of what’s passed on to your beneficiaries. A qualified estate attorney can help minimize taxes, something a DIY will may not adequately cover.

Outdated Provisions

Laws change, and a will that is not updated to reflect current laws can create legal issues. For example, if a DIY will doesn’t account for changes in marital status or state laws, it may not be executed as intended.

Complex Families

In blended families or when intending to disinherit a family member, a standard DIY may not be sufficient to address potential challenges.

Omission of Digital Assets

Modern estates often include digital assets like social media accounts or cryptocurrency. A DIY will may fail to address these, leaving them in limbo.

Create a Will Today with Charlotte Estate Planning

When you’re young, having a will is a proactive and responsible step that shows you’re thinking ahead. You might also be surprised to learn that creating a basic will doesn’t have to be complicated or too expensive when you work with an experienced attorney.

Don’t wait until it’s too late — Charlotte Estate Planning is ready to help today. We’ll work with you to create a will that brings you peace of mind and provides for your loved ones.

Call (704) 766-8836 or contact us for a free initial consultation.

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